Q What are you trying to do with this exhibition? What’s the point you’re trying to drive home?
A These are photographs about a shared habitat of the rich and poor, huts and malls, flyovers and shanties, all of which form the make-up of contemporary India. I wanted to capture how the visual landscape of India has changed since the turn of the millennium. I’m trying to catch how the different people of India live in the spaces that they inhabit, and how these spaces coexist. My view is bottom-up. There is no deifying of politicians and nobody famous through all the 64 photos.
Q Doesn’t every photographer want to capture the ‘big change’ that has happened in India? What new insight do you bring in?
A In my opinion, the media (and not just photographers working on India) have been largely self-congratulatory towards the country. Our media has tended to glorify our globalisation and put down our poverty. As Indians, we are seduced by ourselves. My focus has been to capture the different subjects who people our landscape ‘as they are’. I’m not trying to disparage our development. Nor I am making any big comment.
Q What was the genesis of this show?
A I’d been clicking photographs for the ten years since I left my full-time job. I clicked whatever caught my fancy as I travelled through the country. When I did my periodic review of the photos, I thought there was an underlying pattern, though I wasn’t doing anything consciously. I realised the people I had photographed were participants and creators of the change in our landscape.
QYou talk of the change in our ‘visual landscape’. But hasn’t the same landscape also not changed at all?
A Yes and no. That’s the whole point of my show. To show both these sides. More importantly, to show similarities in the different subjects that make up contemporary India.
Q What’s the purpose of a photograph for you?
A To capture a moment in history.
(Prashant Panjiar’s exhibition of photographs, Pan India: A Shared Habitat, is being presented by Tasveer at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi between 25 Sept and 5 Oct. Get a sneak peak here.)