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Sahapedia Frames Photography Grant

Finally, we have our top 25! We are truly overwhelmed by the enthusiastic participation and the quality of applications we have received. Selecting our finalists for the Sahapedia Frames Photography Grants 2018 from over 300 applications was not an easy task. What set the selected proposals apart were their unusual subjects, unique perspectives and, of course, commendable camera skills. And for those of you who do not find yourselves on this list, it's only because we know that there's a lot more to come from you - so please keep clicking and do stay connected!

Over the next four months our Grant Awardees will be travelling the length and breadth of the country, documenting the diverse cultures and expressions that form its social fabric. Here, in brief, are the Awardees and their projects:


Abhijit Chakraborty
Abhijit will be travelling to Purulia district in West Bengal to document the community of dancers called ‘Nachni’, who perform skits with song and dance. The meaning of Nachni has changed over time and these days they are associated with ‘baiji’ or courtesans. The Baijis are considered outcast by society, yet they form a very important social art form in the hinterlands of rural Bengal.
Arindam Thokder
Arindam is going to look into the dying tradition of hand painted film posters and large cut outs made in Bangalore. He will be interacting with Mr. K Chinnappa, who probably is the last film poster painter, working on this art form for the last 60 years. He will also cover the various other ways hand painted film posters are made, and how they are displayed on automobiles, at political rallies and outside cinema halls.
Arka Dutta
Bahuroopis dress themselves up as Hindu gods and goddesses and lead an itinerant life,travelling from village to village collecting alms from households and performing in local festivals and fairs. Though they come from backward castes, their physical transformation temporarily gives them a temporary divine identity. Arka will be documenting this process of transformation, both physically, and also as a way of enabling social inclusivity of the lower castes.
Deepti Asthana
Deepti Asthana will be visiting the Kargil region in Kashmir bordering the L-O-C. She will investigate the relationship Baltis, who live in Kargil and its surrounding villages, have with their built spaces, terrain and environment, particularly their unique architecture. This will include understanding the distinct usage of private and public spaces, and religious and community spaces, and the sociocultural aspects of the Baltis.
Garima Agarwal
Garima is fascinated by the architecture and artwork of the Shekhawati region and she will be documenting Mandawa, along with the neighbouring towns of Nawalgarh and Fatehpur. She will look at these spaces not just as abandoned spaces, which has only museum value now, but as living spaces which are cherished by their owners. She will also investigate how local artists are keeping the Shekhawati art form alive.
Kanza Fatima
Kanza wants to document the embroidery craft of Zardozi as practised in Lucknow. Other than the history and legacy of the craft, she will be looking into the techniques, raw material and creative skill involved in making Zardozi. She will also investigate the working environments of the local artisans, how the craft is sold in the local markets, and what value Lucknowallahs have for the craft as a part of their city’s culture and heritage.
Kirthana Devdas
Kirthana comes from Pannur, Kerala, and her family has been long associated with the ritual of Thera, a dance drama enactment having roots in the caste dynamics of the state. Denied access to public spaces of worship, Thera is believed to have been devised my communities belonging to the lower castes as an alternate space for worship and public conversation. The ritual also has roots in tribal beliefs of nature, ancestor and hero worship. Kirthana would interact with artists and document the rituals leading up to the performances.
Richa Bhavanam
Richa has been photographing changing gender representation in the art of Yakshagana, a performing art from coastal Karnataka. Till a few decades back Yakshagana was performed exclusively by men, but has now opened up to female performers. While the performances themselves are enthralling, Richa will be going behind the scenes to document the Yakshagana green room with a particular focus on the female performers and their transformation into mythical, larger than life characters.
Pradeep KS
Pradeep will be documenting the Daivaradhane festival, which is celebrated annually in Tulu Nadu region of coastal Karnataka. Local spirits (daivas, būtas) are invoked and the spirits lodge themselves in the body of an impersonator. Traditionally, the Pambada, Nalike and Parawa castes celebrate this festival.  Pradeep, who has documented the involvement of the Pambada caste earlier,  through the Grant wants to investigate the way the Nalike and Parawa castes participate in the festival.
Sharmishta Dutta
Sharmishta was enthralled when she first visited Srinagar, and she will be returning to visually capture life on the Dal Lake and how local Kashmiris interact with the water body on a daily basis. She will look into the human geography of the region and how the architecture, crafts, agriculture, transportation and economics of the region is directly and indirectly influenced by the intricate eco system of the Dal Lake.
Shatabdi Chakrabarti
Shatabdi has been researching into the tattooing culture that exists in various tribal groups in India, and how the ancient practice of tattoo making is slowly fading away and losing their original meaning and significance. As an extension of that work, she will be living with the Baiga community in Madhya and be documenting not only the artwork, but also delve deeper into the significance of the motifs and the traditional process of tattoo making.
Sindhuja Parthasarathy
Sindhuja has been a crusader in the subject of gender diversity, gender inclusivity and gender rights. She has worked amongst the transgender communities of Southern India and the North East, and now wants to expand her research to Kashmir. Transgenders in J&K, like most transgenders across the country, are discriminated and marginalized. Through her work, Sindhuja wants to shed light on the social, political, financial challenges faced by them living on the fringes of society.
Sujata Khanna
Sujata is hopeful to live at and document the the Druk Gawa Khilwa nunnery in Kathmandu, Nepal, home to the only female order to practice Kung Fu. Apart from the Nepal, nuns from across the Himalayas have come to live here, each with a unique story about why they became nuns. In an inherently patriarchal Buddhist monastic system, the Druk Gawa Khilwa nunnery stands as a testament to changing perceptions about women and their empowerment through the practice of martial arts.
Taha Ahmad
Taha Ahmad’s love for calligraphy is reflected in his interest to document the artwork of noted calligrapher Mr.Anis Siddiqui. Other than the life and career of Mr.Anis Siddiqui, Taha will also visually document the evolution and legacy of calligraphy in India and its present status as a practiced art form.
Udit Kulshrestha
Udit takes particular interest in documenting industrial subjects and this has taken him to the city of Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh, which has long been the perfumery capital of India. Having photographed some aspects of this craft previously, Udit will look at taking that further, by exploring the personal spaces of the perfumers. He will also be looking at how the perfumes are sold and packaged in intricately designed glass bottles, which is a dependant craft form made in the same region.
Indrajeet Khambe
Kolhapur has a long and rich history of Kushti, patronised by the Maratha royalty of the erstwhile princely state. Indrajit has already been working on documenting the akhada culture of the city, and he intends to document the sport beyond the confines of the training place and look at its popularity in local tournaments. He will also be looking at the personal narratives of the pahalwans, their gurus, and the love, dedication and discipline they have for the sport.
Pattabi Raman
Pattabiraman will look into the complex rituals and mythologies connected with the Mahabharata which are enacted at the Koovagam Festival, that takes place in Vilupuram, Tamilnadu. Almost 50,000 transgenders from across the country gather for this festival which gives them a platform to participate in their mythologies and express their sexual identities publicly. Koovagam is thus an important event of self-expression, gender empowerment and identity politics for the marginalised transgender community of India.
Namrata Toraskar
Namrata has been a frequent visitor to the villages of Grahan, Thunja, Barsheni and Naggar in the Kullu valley and she has been fascinated with the local weaving traditions of the Kulbi community. Kulbi women weave in their homes using throw-shuttle- frame looms, especially during the long isolation of the winter months. Namrata will look into the sources of raw material, working environment, local markets and also the personal narrative of the weavers and their daily life.
SR Abbiramy
Abbiramy has interest in the textile traditions of India, and she wants to work on the rich textile craft of the Toda tribe living in Tamil Nadu. Increasing exposure to the outside world has modernized the lifestyle of the Todas and Abbiramy wants to document how the textile traditions of the tribe is changing over time. She will look into how specific rites of passage is linked with textiles and the various colors and symbols used in Toda textiles, their significance and meaning.
Rama Madhu Gopal Rao
Madhu Gopal Rao is a native of Hyderabad and he wants to dive into the back lanes of Laad Bazaar and document the craft of bangle making. Alongside glass bangles, craftsmen here are struggling to keep the art of lac bangle alive. Laad Bazaar also has a range of other crafts, which together cater to a thriving wedding trousseau industry. Madhu will also look into the working spaces and how the local architecture has developed a combination of residential spaces and karkhanas making these crafts.
Arnab Bhaumik
Arnab will be travelling to Sibasagar, the ancient capital of Assam, to document the festival of Rangali Bihu, held during the Assamese New Year. He will be looking into Rongali Bihu’s relationship with agriculture and fertility, and how Bihu is celebrated in the villages and the various rituals and practices associated with the festival. He will also be documenting some of Sivasagar’s architecture dating from the Ahom period.
Dipak Kumbhar
Dipak wants to explore the tradition of making various type of stringed musical instruments practiced in Miraj, Maharashtra. Many of India’s famous musicians get their instruments made from Miraj which has also produced many classical singers. The craft has existed in Miraj since the 18 th century and encompasses several different types of Indian stringed instruments like the Sarod, Sitar and Tanpura, which are entirely hand-made.
Mrigank Kulshreshta
Mrigank will be visiting Meghalaya to cover the festival of Behdienkhlam, celebrated by the local Jaintia tribe in June/July. The rituals of the Behdienkhlam festival is performed by the Daloi and young men beat the roof of every house with bamboo poles in a gesture to drive away of the evil spirit, plague and disease. The festival has roots in the animist cult popular in the region and involves the pulling of tall chariots specially made for the occasion.
Perumal Venkatesan
Perumal Venkatesan wants to investigate the connections between stone inscriptions and the growth of Bangalore as a city. His work will trace the condition and location of the stones in present times. These epigraphs, along with manuscripts, record private donations made by people, royal orders and proclamations, place names and origins, economic activities, tax exemptions, land grants, etc. Hundreds of such stones lie scattered around Bangalore which is a window to the city’s history and heritage.