Photography and other experiences.


You don’t get what you don’t see.

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Goin’ home, late last night
Suddenly I got a fright
Yeah I looked through a window and surprised what I saw
A fairy with boots and dancin’ with a dwarf,
All right now!
Yeah, fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me
Yeah I saw it, I saw it, I tell you no lies
Yeah Fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me
I saw it, I saw it with my own two eyes,
Oh all right now!

                                                                                                     Black Sabbath 1971

Yes, there are fairies and they often dance with dwarves. I saw it on the 17th of July 2017. And No, I’ve never tripped on dope. Ever.

This is a world of deliberate disconnections; after all, our favourite chicken brochette has a very brutal beginning and that is an indisputable fact. However hard we might try to justify our polished existence or the inheritance of a superior universe, but the aesthetics of aesthetics is not a particularly easy thing to swallow. The best we can do is to see the funny side of it.

I was invited by my good friend Suneet to take pictures of a video shoot that he had commissioned as a part of an ad-campaign. It was in a studio, famous for its generous  space. So there I went, with my three bags full of stands, lights and two cameras, thinking of being over-equipped for the occasion, only to be humbled by the sight of the material welcoming me there. It looked like a factory that makes aeroplanes: its rafters dripping with steel, wires and lights. A crowd of dwarves was busy adding to the snaggle, optimistically finding space for its purpose; laying it on the floor or making it stand; clipping, twisting, raising, waiting, releasing; all without making a racket. That wasn’t all. Then they put wood wedges under the rails, corrected the white-balance, set up the trolly, upped and dimmed the lights, added a cutter here, tilted a light there, fought with shadows and flares in a well rehearsed manner to finally achieve their idea of perfection.

I nudged my two lights into the spray and stick, with some help from the invaders, realising that it wasn’t a scene of oppression at all. A senior member of their team helped me put my large Rotalux together. I would’ve taken the whole day to do it without his help.

The shoot started thereafter. A small Sony α7 mated to humongous Carl Zeiss cine-lenses was being employed for the purpose. Everything was strapped on to a bulky rig. Two men operated the camera; one peering over the articulated screen and the other pulling focus. Others then busied themselves with this and that, including pushing the trolly smoothly over the rails whenever the cameraman cried ‘Joom’.

Our models, the three fairies, looked ethereal in Suneet’s wonderfully designed clothes.

Instagram shoot 054This is where the story gets turned on the fire, simmering just like that chicken brochette.

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Initially the setup amused me, often making me laugh with its innocuous flowing. The fairies  roused into a titillating disposition at the call of ‘Action’ or ‘Rolling’, sashayed to an imaginary celebration, and the machine-dwarf, ignoring the seductress in front, went about his work like a cog. The drama would continue for a minute or so until the director said ‘Cut’. The command does not stop the dwarf. He keeps whirring; checking re-checking, fussing over something relentlessly. The fairy meanwhile, suddenly dropped out of consideration, has nowhere to go, except into her garden of dreams.

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Then the action begins again.

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In a different outfit.

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Its not easy being a fairy. You have to be beautiful, tall, dignified and professional. Now, this word is ambiguous. Professional means responsible, but here, also implies being able to unplug and then be ready to plug into the action when called. There’s no time to waste.

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Then a dwarf would hold two screaming taped-up blowers, ( Suneet thought they were more melodious than Brian Johnson of AC/DC. Blasphemy!) and in that din, the fairy  twirled her locks, believing that the copious breeze is carrying her lover’s kisses and the most tender poem his heart might have bled. Oh this world! You can make dew drops out of bum-sweat.

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But this is life. Isn’t it? Everything has a side.

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It may be as beautiful as Sonalika (above) , or the loneliness of being an also-ran, the way quite a lot of us are.

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And suddenly, providentially, we find ourselves in the company of a fairy, as lonely, biding time, waiting for some action. We live in subsets of a complicated world, sometimes in joy, sometimes in a jam, imprisoned by fear or liberated by attention.

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The cameraman (who Suneet so sweetly called Camera-Wale-Bhaiyya), was asked by the director to go up-and-down Sonalika, to catch the details of embroidery of her sari. And Sonalika ever so graciously obliged with a smile, enduring the lens as it roved the length of her in a  humdrum.

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The process gave occasional respite: when the lens was being changed or the trolly wobbled to the dissatisfaction of the cameraman. Then the moments of contemplation crept in, giving a measure of how we usually deal with things that don’t fit us that well.

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But the narrative is about the interaction of two very different worlds, and the irony of it. The fairies are beautiful. They are aware of it, they use it and work to look that way for as long as they can. On the other hand are the dwarves: nondescript, potbellied, who have never flung a limb in their lives to look beyond the ordinary, and yet, both have to dance together in this drama of life.

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But the dwarves are not that bland. They have aspirations too. So what if one has an enormous belly; he still has the style to flaunt a ‘DARE’ on his T shirt.


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Or has spent hours in a friend’s beauty parlour just to get a few wisps of hair bleached.

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In the end, to make a fairy look her best, what matters is how well he can dance.

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So the next time you see a fairy looking besotted by the bubbles of a sandal-wood soap or lost in euphoric sensations of a creamy moisturiser, remember, she is actually dancing with the dwarves.

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I’ll wrap it up by quoting a typical Smoogykuk repartee from the Disobedient Darkness:

” What you have is not important, it’s what you lose to get it is.”


One response

  1. Love it.

    July 26, 2017 at 11:21 am

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