Karan.

Lets be predictable and start with the obvious. Karan Kapoor’s father is Shashi Kapoor, his grand father was Prithviraj Kapoor, his uncle was Raj Kapoor, his cousin is Rishi Kapoor, his nephew is Ranbir Kapoor and his niece is Kariena Kapoor Khan. Overwhelming…isn’t it?.. and given India’s manical obsession with all things filmy, enough to steal the thunder from any individual’s sincerest efforts in self expression. The reason I chose to bring this out in the very beginning is because, by default, most would join these very dots to arrive at due conclusions about the man, then swoon over his demigod looks… and all this, before (and for some unfortunate souls, even after) seeing what he has magically created on his own…from his spirit. Therefore, I have chosen to introduce his family in relation to him and not him in relation to his family… so whilst he may also be a grandson, son, brother and uncle from ‘the’ first family of Indian films, he is, for me personally, one of the finest constructers of some of the most original imagery that I have seen in a long time!

‘Time & Tide’, his show of photographs, currently on at the Bikaner House in New Delhi, is based on (primarily ageing) Anglo-Indians in Goa. An Anglo-Indian himself, and having spent a considerable amount of time in Baga in Goa, Karan’s interest clearly arises from immortalising the last of a people caught between a racial divide. The works, in luscious silver gelatine prints, show the viewer an unseen and perhaps, for today’s generation, even a visually unrealised and unknown India. They express curious unspoken words through a candid and delightful honesty.. and also from the heartwarming humility of the artist.

Karan now lives in England with his family, and only recently surfaced in India after a hiatus of 25 years. He also indulges in commercial photography and the fact that his website does not show his artistic works is testimony to the fact that the man knows and respects the difference between money and the ‘spiritually’ material.

This show is a must see… you have until the 29th of this month to savour the goods;  the taste of which, I assure you, will linger in the deepest recesses of your core for years to come.

There’s a book too, for purchase, but don’t be boring, invest in a piece of artistic history instead!

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Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

 

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Macchiato.

We Indians are indeed a strange bunch. We look down upon our own if they cannot converse in English OR even if they speak Hindi fluently. We look people up and down in disdain if we see them wearing a kurta-pyjama or dhoti in public (signature Indian garments). I don’t really know what it is… Is it a British hangover that we’ve still not been able to get rid of entirely?… or is it that we choose to interpret the lack of one’s fluency in the English language as being uneducated… or whether we consider wearing clothes native to one’s own land as backward! I don’t see this happening anywhere else …Go to China and you’ll tear your hair out trying to communicate with the locals… The Japanese flaunt their beautiful Kimonos with pride and are thus revered by all and sundry.

Yet, perhaps what surprises me the most is the fact that we propagate (quite unabashedly) a heady dose of fairness creams in a country which is largely, well, brown skinned. I find it utterly disturbing that girls who are dusky or dark have to struggle their entire life fending off a social stigma, which makes no sense in the first place!

We’re children of Nature…of God… and how we look is exactly how we’re meant to be accepted. I’ve never quite understood why the colour of one’s skin is such a big issue anyways…Black, Brown, White, Yellow (!!??), what difference does it make? If at all, it makes us all unique…beautiful in our own signature way… comfortable in our own skin. As a matter of fact, I find dusky and dark incredibly sexy (stated purely because the visual seems to affect so many) and is in no way, a handicap. It might be wise for many to remember that eventually what matters is the inside of a person… the heart…the intellect…the spirit.

The last I heard, no colour (except maybe orange?) was ever the reason for any individual to be singularly causing any form of catastrophic distress in any form whatsoever.

But I guess I should speak for myself and for me, Dusky is incredibly exotic! From Maidens (unfair) to Macchiatos, Brown most certainly gets the Crown!

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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Uneasy lies the head that wears a Turban

One of my vivid memories emanates from outside the departure terminal of Johannesburg airport about 20 years back. Those were the days I used to wear a turban. I was wheeling my luggage towards the entrance when I heard a loud screech of car tyres; on turning back to see what happened, i noticed a woman had stopped her car in the middle of the road and was subsequently charging towards me literally screaming “excuse me” several times over. I stopped and she came up to me, breathless, and asked, “I just wanted to know how you tie that…that thing on your head”? Clearly she was both, impressed and intrigued by my turban (and i actually did do a good job at tying one back in the days)… I was amused (she had created a mini jam of sorts by leaving her car in the middle of the road) and proceeded to enlighten her about the art of the drape around my head. She smiled, complimented and hugged me and left, and as I proceeded to walk into the terminal, i could not help but feel a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience.

Fast forward to the recent years and the same turban evokes a different sentiment for many westerners; that of fear and anguish… of a concern that beneath that handsome drape lurks a devious and dangerous mind. Its disheartening to see where mankind is headed… with one’s personal appearance now seeming enough to denote the character of the individual. History tells us another story though…Communities with prominent turban-wearing traditions can be found in the Indian Subcontinent, Afghanistan, South Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, the Near East, Central Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, and parts of the Swahili Coast. In fact, in ancient times, even the Greeks donned a distinctive style of turbans. Additionally, turbans have often been worn by nobility, regardless of religious background. In Kenya, the Akurinu, a Christian denomination, wear turbans as religious headgear. The official name of the denomination is The Kenya Foundation Of The Prophets Church or else Holy Ghost Church. Both men and women wear white turbans. The Sikh (the community that I belong to) turban, known as the Dastar (or Pagg), is used to show others that they represent the embodiment of Sikh teachings, the love of the Guru and dogma to do good deeds.

In an idealistic world (and I hope we get there really fast), we need to learn to value people for who they are and not from where they’re from. If that were to be, a drape around the head would connote as much fear as a belt around the waist (the latter being deadlier actually, in the hands of the wrong person), a fear which essentially would be non-existent. A person’s appearance is merely a visual differentiator, it is the mind within that creates the chaos. So perhaps, instead of creating more hate based on what people wear or where they come from, we need to look at creating love instead, by first, remembering that under a garb, there lurks no mandatory devil in disguise and then, by believing that we are indeed the same, created by the same entity, breathing the same air and living on the same planet.

A few months back,  a friend of mine (Rahul Dev: a Human by birth, a Hindu by religion) and I, decided to do a shoot together. He looked impressive… handsome, perhaps even more than he actually is (and he’s a good looking fellow) and yet, I doubt very much that by donning that aristocratic turban, he had magically transformed himself into an evil, conniving beast with the sole mission to destroy the world!

Would you disagree?

Enjoy the images…

All clothes in the images above are from the JJ VALAYA collection: THE RANAS OF KACHCHH, 2016-17

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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