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Moody & flamboyant. That's Delhi through a photographer's lens

Lamat R Hasan | Updated on: 26 May 2016, 16:20 IST

Do you think Delhi is flamboyant? Or would you call it moody?

Photographer Ahmed Firoz showcased the many moods of Delhi, the many moments frozen in time with his constant companion - the camera - at the India Habitat Centre in April.

Welcome to his Delhi.

Where the world is divided between backstage and onstage. Backstage, the threshold where a range of emotions envelope the actor as he braces up to face the world. There is a question mark on his future. Onstage, the world where the future unfolds. The stage that seals the actor's career. With bouquets or brickbats.

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This is what excites Firoz and this is what he likes to capture.

"Backstage is the most vulnerable and stressful time for any performer. The moods and expressions are so different from those on the stage. The reason for juxtaposing them is to showcase what normally hasn't," says Firoz.

Just Delhi

Most professional shots of Delhi use its historical grandeur as a backdrop. We have been overexposed to that.

Therefore, what makes Firoz's pictures a delight, are that they look at Delhi from different vantage points. In his pictures Delhi is not just a pretty place with heritage forts and mosques, but a hustling and bustling city where the modern meets folklore. And vice versa.

Photo: Asif feroz

Firoz unravels the city's mysteries, bares its heart and soul, focusing on its energies, colours, flamboyance and moodiness. And, of course, juxtaposing the backstage with the onstage.

Some of his pictures are abstract. Letting the viewers' interpretation prevail. The attention to detail, the delicate interplay of light and shadow, the deliberate use of intense colours - often a predominance of red - have become the hallmark of his work.

Frame by Frame

Firoz has taken photos all over the world. He has exhibited them a couple of times before. But his latest exhibition was an ode to Delhi, his city.

"Over 80% of the photographs I have shot are outside Delhi, but this exhibition captures the moods of Delhi."

He doesn't have a favourite picture and loves them all equally. "Each is precious in view of aesthetics, subject matter, composition and the story it tells."

Photo: Asif feroz

That Firoz is an economist and does not earn his bread and butter from photography, liberates him from the usual problems plaguing professional photographers. He is free to follow his passion, choose his subjects, and click when he wants to.

"...there are cameras all over - whether it is a DSLR professional camera or the ones built into cellphones. Tens of millions of photographs are taken every day. The world is getting documented every day," he says.

Ironically, the space for photographers is shrinking. The quality of photographs is suffering as well in the rush to click and be the first to publish.

"... photographers need to spend a lot more time looking for that perfect shot," he suggests.

Of moods & grooves

Whether it is the photographs of Kathakali dancers looking tense backstage before a show, or Kalbalia dancers drawing energy from the crowds during the performance, Firoz manages to capture the eccentricities and the soulfulness of the moments.

The picture of rural women from Western India in awe of the Qutub Minar is breathtaking. Firoz deliberately overexposed the photograph to highlight their mood. The photo of swirling dervishes lost in the thought of the divine, looks like a painting. As does the photo of another dancer who is circling in ecstasy, in orange light.

But what captures the heart of Delhi best, is a cycle-rickshaw negotiating past Dilliwallahs, who are busy singing, never mind the rain. That is signature Firoz. And Delhi can have more of him.

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First published: 26 May 2016, 16:20 IST
Lamat R Hasan @LamatAyub

Bats for the four-legged, can't stand most on two. Forced to venture into the world of homo sapiens to manage uninterrupted companionship of 16 cats, 2 dogs and counting... Can read books and paint pots and pay bills by being journalist.