DJ Zameer pinged me on Facebook one day. He asked me to consider him for the next subject of my BAA (Being an artist) series. Is DJing an art? I asked myself.
I guess in my head, I never looked at DJing like that – an art-form. But what is a DJ if not an artist ultimately?
This 3 Minute Story is from the few hours that I spent with Zameer in the second half of 2019. He showed me around his rented house in Anjuna (where he also demoed his fancy blue light setup) and then took me to a gig where he performed.
He shared with me stories of where he grew up, his earlier corporate jobs, the politics of being a DJ in Goa, the struggles to make money – especially in the first year, and his approach to living life.
‘After ambition ends, then peace begins’, he shared with me during the video interview. That’s why he has avoided having fixed targets in life, he explained.
I hope watching this story brings you some peace. What you do with your ambition, I leave that to you.
I am looking to document lives and thoughts of more artists.
Share this story with artists you know? I’ve expressed my motivation behind this ‘Being an artist’ series in some detail here.
I know we are living under pandemic times. Shooting may be on hold for the months to come. That shouldn’t stop me from at least building up a pipeline of artists to document though, right?
The two other stories already published in this series are on Nimmy – a ceramic / terracotta artist and Waylon – an installation artist (also a landscape designer). Hope you see / have seen them too.
This is the first video in my ‘Being an Artist’ series. The plan is to meet more artists, with different experiences, from different genres, of different genders, beliefs, and put out their stories, their way of life.
There is no one way of being an artist. And being an artist is a valid, genuine career / lifestyle choice. The idea of this ongoing series is so reinforce this perspective.
If you like my work, do subscribe so that I can keep in touch with you via email.
This is the story of Jeeveshu Ahluwalia, now a successful stand-up comic in India whose popularity is only rising by the day. It is mostly based on my meeting with the “funny man” one evening in Mumbai last year. I showed up few hours before his show at the Canvas Laugh Club and he spoke about his life. How did I end up meeting him? I had been following him on Facebook for some time when I was moved by one of his posts that went something like – “a food delivery guy just asked for an autograph – so happy to follow my passion”. I gave him a buzz and told him I made these 3 minute stories and he replied back saying he liked my work and would be happy to help me do a story on him. And that’s how I met him.
Becoming a stand up comic is a new fad in India. But what is it really like, when you quit your job to try becoming one? Watch this short documentary and let me know what you think about it!
PS: I would like to thank Ankit Vatsa, Anshuman Agarwal, Manu Gupta, Nimit Jain and Jeeveshu, for their valuable feedback on the earlier versions of the video. I would also like to thank Canvas Laugh Club to let me shoot and stuff.
In fact, in spite of the affairs and divorces that are spoken about in this short documentary, the real story is simply about the many different and interesting ways in which life unfolds. I shot this in an Indian village in Himachal Pradesh as part of my “art” project for Shop Art Art Shop 2 residency (mid May – mid June 2016).
The story of how this story happened.
Ravi – the protagonist, came over to me one day, and introduced himself. My film is almost totally based on that first conversation that we had. The conversation revolved around his two marriages (someone would later tell me he actually got married thrice, but that’s another story altogether), his father’s multiple marriages and an Englishman Toby – who had decided not to marry after his first divorce.
Shooting Ravi doing his work was pretty straightforward (he is a freelance carpenter amongst other things – in case you are reading this before having watched the film). It’s a small village and if you roam around enough, you can easily find people you have met before, going about their daily lives. What I wasn’t sure about was how to shoot his family. One fine day, as I was walking around with my camera, I found two cute children doing cute things and so started shooting them, without any specific purpose. The kids were hanging out with their mother. And guess what, Ravi showed up from somewhere soon afterwards; he was the father! My story was taking shape slowly.
For some reason, I was kind of hesitant to ask Ravi if I can shoot his family doing things together. For most parts, I saw the husband and wife working separately – doing their own things.
To my benefit, over the next week or so, Poonam – the wife, saw the New Zealand and Italy Holioke* featuring Princy and me – and after that, she started talking to me frequently, generally enquiring about when Princy would return (Princy – my wife had left for a trek in Manali after spending few days in Gunehar). After several days, I was kind of sure that Poonam wouldn’t mind me shooting her. So one evening, as she was washing clothes in a public space, I started filming. I waited for her to finish the task and then followed her all the way to her house. She invited me in, offered me tea and Maggi and soon thereafter Ravi showed up too. Finally, I had all the different elements to weave together a story. I did have to re-record a small part of interview with Ravi later (just the audio). Also, because Ravi keeps riding his motorcycle all the time, I thought it would be nice to shoot him doing that (the only choreographed part of the story). So yeah, that’s about how this story came about. Full of his kids’ cuteness and charm. Let me know how you liked it?
*Princy and I do a bit of karaoke style music video from our trips abroad; I showed some to the villagers and they became very popular there. Children often wanted to watch them more than my short documentaries on villagers. 🙂
Neelabh, my best friend from school and my partner at ShaadiGraPher has been an avid film photography lover. He owns multiple film cameras, often shoots with them (except when on commercial shoots such as weddings) and most of the times, develops his own photographs by creating a miniature darkroom in his house. His fridge is full of film-rolls. I often wondered why he cared about film-photography when he could so easily shoot on a digital camera and get the same result? In any case, he was shooting digital anyway. So why care about films? Just an obsession, a hobby? What was it? It wasn’t very clear. What was clear to me was that, very very few people today bothered about film photography. So what exactly was holding back these select few photographers such as Neelabh to the charm of film photography, the old school photography, I could never truly understand.
One fine day, I was discussing with Neelabh the idea of making a documentary on any interesting story that I could find. He suggested I meet the guys at Goa-CAP. What is Goa-CAP, I asked him? CAP stands for Centre for Alternate Photography. These people are film photography lovers and they have been running a community darkroom in Calangute – a centre where all those who are interested in the art of film-processing, can get together and experiment with different processes. There are several different chemical processes to develop a negative into a physical photograph – some even more than 100 years old. And though a lot of info is available online, if you really wanted to try something, you might find it difficult to either get your hands at the right equipment, or the required chemicals or you might realize that the process that you found online, did not yield the desired result, because it was written keeping say Europe’s climate in mind, while you were trying the same in Amchi Mumbai. Goa CAP was helping all these film photography enthusiasts, learn and experiment together.
Neelabh asked me to meet his online friend Edson, one of the three co-founders of Goa-CAP. Edson was responsible for running the community darkroom in Goa. And so I decided to meet him. He could finally help me understand what made people like him and Neelabh still care about film photography even in today’s world of digital camera. Was it because, film-cameras gave better quality or because it made some people feel special – made them feel they were doing something superior that the lowly digital photographers had no clue about? I had several different theories, but I was never really sure, what truly explained the passion of these guys. Passion to still pursue a technology that to me was so clearly obsolete.
After that first meeting with Edson, I hanged around a lot with him and his friend Madhavan – who was the other co-founder of Goa-CAP. And they told their story. And I liked their story. And gradually I came to indeed appreciate the real reason why they still cared about film photography and film processing. At that time, I wasn’t very sure on how to present their story though. I had assumed I would make a 10 to 20 minute documentary but there was so much that they had to say that I found it difficult to put together a nice coherent and most importantly, interesting story. And so the Project went dormant for a long time. I had lengthy footage from my interviews with both Edson and Madhavan – but I did not know how to use them effectively. Until the idea of 3 minute stories occurred. Just like that.
So I went back to the footage that I had, and tried to find the most interesting thing that I could bring out from the hotchpotch of insights that I had gained from these two guys. And there I had – a simply story about why Goa-CAP was doing what it was doing. Which at the same time explained why some people still cared about film photography. And there I had – my first 3 minute story.
I would like to thank Edson and Madhavan for sharing their story and to allow me to shoot footage in their centre (which is presently moving to a different place in Goa and hence is not functional). I would also like to thank the folks experimenting at Goa-CAP who you see in this short-doc (I don’t remember everyone’s names but Sandra, Ajay and Nelvin are three of them – Sandra is an alternate photographer from Mexico who had come down to Goa for a short while; Ajay is a Delhi based painter; and Nelvin is an architect based out of Goa itself). I also thank my wife for helping me connect to a painter friend of her’s – Prerna, and to Prerna for letting me film her at her house, as she worked on her upcoming painting. And for her generous hospitality.
I hope this 3 minute story creates some awareness about what photography really means to some people, especially in today’s digital world when we don’t think beyond seeing and clicking and seeing again. I hope the film photography lovers will like it even more because it strives to explain why they do what they do!