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Sahapedia Frames Photography Grant 2018

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 Chakraborty

Abhijit Chakraborty travelled to Purulia to document the dancer community known as ‘nachni’. Nachnis and their rasiks (male handlers) together perform jhumur song and dance in villages. Modern nachnis have evolved from the older baiji and tawaif culture of 18th and 19th century India. Abhijit captures the family life of nachnis, who are treated as outcasts in the society, and looks at how social entertainment is an important cultural element in rural Bengal.

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Arindam Thokder
Arindam Thokder

Arindam Thokder was fascinated by film posters and large cut outs installed at political rallies and outside cinema halls in Bangalore. He visited the studio of K. Chinnappa, a veteran in film poster painting for six decades now, who is possibly the last poster painter in the city. Arindam also documented the few remaining artists who make hand-painted stickers of movie stars which are displayed on autorickshaws.

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Arka Dutta
Arka Dutta

Arka Dutta worked on the bahurupis of Birbhum district, West Bengal. Bahurupis are impersonators who dress up as Hindu gods and goddesses and travel from village to village to collect alms from households. They also perform for live audiences at local festivals and fairs. Arka documented the elaborate process of their physical transformation, their daily travel through the countryside, their living spaces, and how they engage in various acts to entertain their audiences.

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Deepti Asthana
Deepti Asthana

Deepti Asthana visited Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir, where she stayed with the Balti community. In 1947, the Baltis were partitioned between Kargil in India and Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. Since then, they have been caught in the political conflict between the two countries. Their story is of separation and displacement but also about survival, as the small ethnic group struggles to retain its cultural roots and renew community and family ties across the line-of-control.

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Garima Agarwal
Garima Agarwal

Garima Agarwal was fascinated by the architecture of Mandawa, Nawalgarh and Fatehpur towns, all located in the Shekhawati region in Rajasthan. She photographed the havelis of Shekhawati, not as abandoned spaces, but as living homes that are cherished by their owners, as they carry record of the life of the Marwari community in the 19th century. She also engaged with local artisans to understand the efforts they put to keep the tradition of Shekhawati paintings alive.

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Kanza Fatima
Kanza Fatima

Kanza Fatima documented the embroidery craft of zardozi, produced in the karkhanas (workshops) of Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow. Other than the history of the craft, she looked into the techniques, raw materials, workspaces, and creative skill involved in making zardozi and aariwork. She also investigated the living environment of the zardosans (people who make zardozi), how the craft is sold in local markets, and what challenges zardozi work face in modern times due to changes in the market.

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Kirthana Devdas
Kirthana Devdas

Kirthana Devdas comes from Pannur, Kerala. Her family practises the ritual of thira, a dance drama that finds roots in the caste dynamics of the Malabar region. Denied access to public spaces of worship, thira is believed to have evolved among lower castes as an alternate space for worship and public conversation. Kirthana documented the spaces, performance and rituals that lead up to thira in the sacred groves of her native place.

Richa Bhavanam
Richa Bhavanam

Richa Bhavanam is aware of the changing dynamics of gender representation in yakshagana, a form of theatre that developed in the Dakshina and Uttara Kannada districts of Karnataka. Till the recent past, yakshagana was performed exclusively by men but it has now opened up to female performers. While the performances themselves are enthralling, Richa went behind the scenes to document the camaraderie among the female performers in the green room, and their transformation into mythical, larger-than-life characters.

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Pradeep KS
Pradeep KS

Pradeep documented the Daivaradhane festival, which is celebrated in the Tulu Nadu region of the Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka. Daivaradhane is also known as Bhuta-Kola, where daivas/bhutas (spirits) are invoked by an impersonator in a state of trance. Traditionally, the Pambada, Nalike and Parawa castes celebrate this festival. Pradeep captured the transformation the impersonators undergo by putting on costumes and make-up, and how they bless their devotees and mediate in solving village disputes.

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Sharmishta Dutta
Sharmishta Dutta

Sharmishta Dutta was enraptured when she first visited Srinagar, and she returned to capture life on the Dal Lake and how local Kashmiris interact with the water body on a daily basis. Sharmishta travelled along the Dal Lake to document the neighbourhoods and the distinct geography of the region. She also explored how the architecture, crafts, agriculture, transportation and economics of the region is directly and indirectly influenced by the intricate ecosystem of wetlands.

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Shatabdi Chakrabarti
Shatabdi Chakrabarti

Shatabdi Chakrabarti researches on the tattoo culture of various tribal communities in India, and how the ancient practice is slowly fading away and losing its original meaning and significance. As part of her ongoing research, she visited the Baiga community in Maharashtra and documented not only the Baiga women and the process of tattoo making, but also the few remaining artists in the community who keep the art alive.

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Sindhuja Parthasarathy
Sindhuja Parthasarathy

Sindhuja intends to raise awareness on gender inclusivity and rights through her photography. After working with transgender communities in various parts of India, she ventured to Srinagar. Through her work, Sindhuja has shed light on the social, political and financial challenges faced by the transgender community living in Srinagar. Though they live on the fringes of society, she witnessed their importance at weddings where they are invited to perform and entertain.

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Sujata Khanna
Sujata Khanna

Sujata Khanna visited the Druk Gawa Khilwa nunnery in Kathmandu, Nepal, which is home to nuns of the Drukpa school run by His Holiness, the Gwalwang Drukpa. Apart from receiving intensive spiritual training at Druk Gawa Khilwa, the nuns also learn self-defence by training in Kungfu. The nuns combine their Kungfu training with cycling tours and community service, in an effort to raise awareness about the environment and the need for empowerment of women in Nepal and India.

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Taha Ahmad
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 Kulshrestha

Udit Kulshrestha is particularly interested in documenting industrial environments, and this takes him to Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh, which has long been the perfumery capital of India. Udit has in the past photographed some aspects of this craft, and here he takes the project further by exploring the sourcing of flowers, the distillation process in the factories, the physical labour of the workers, and the chemistry behind how new fragrances of ittar are created in scientific laboratories.

Indrajeet Khambe
Indrajeet Khambe

Indrajit Khambe had earlier photographed the akhadas (taleem) of Kolhapur, where he captured the daily life of the pahalwans and the love, dedication and discipline they have for the sport. This time, he followed the pahalwans to the wrestling tournaments organised in the interiors of Maharashtra to witness their popularity among the masses. Indrajit looks into personal narratives of the pahalwans, the sacrifices they make, and the relationships they forge with their gurus (trainers).

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G. Pattabiraman
G. Pattabiraman

Pattabiraman investigates the rituals and mythologies connected with Mahabharata that are enacted at the Koovagam festival in Tamil Nadu. Transgender people who follow the cult of Aravan, gather at the festival to re-enact the marriage of Mohini with Aravan, Aravan’s sacrifice at the battle of Kurukshetra, followed by Mohini’s mourning. The festival emerges as an important event of self-expression and cultural integration for the marginalised transgender community of South Asia who gather in large numbers at Koovagam.

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Namrata Toraskar
Namrata Toraskar

Namrata Toraskar is a frequent visitor to the villages of Grahan, Thunja, Barsheni and Naggar in the Kullu valley, and is fascinated by the local weaving traditions of the local Kulbi community. Kulbi women weave at their homes with throw-shuttle frame looms, mainly during the long winter months. Namrata photographed the weavers, their work and living environment, local markets where they sell their products, and the daily life of the villagers of Grahan.

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SR Abbiramy
SR Abbiramy

Abbiramy has always been interested in textile history and wanted to research the embroidery of the Toda tribe living in the Nilgiri mountains of Tamil Nadu. She visited Toda munds (villages) and witnessed how the Toda lifestyle has modernised due to urbanisation and drastic changes to the Nilgiri ecosystem. Here, she looks at how textiles form a part of every social occasion of the Toda people and communicates the concerns of the weavers, who are worried about efforts made from outside to commercialise their trademark embroidery.

Rama Madhu Gopal Rao
Rama Madhu Gopal Rao

Rama Madhu Gopal Rao is a native of Hyderabad. He scans the back lanes of Laad Bazaar to document the craft of lac bangle making. Laad Bazaar is a large bangle market, which caters to a thriving wedding trousseau industry. In his documentation, Rama expanded the story beyond Laad Bazaar by photographing festivals like Bonalu Jathra, Samakaa-Saralakka Jathra, and other Hindu festivals where women buy new bangles to decorate themselves or offer them to gods.

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Arnab Bhaumik
Arnab Bhaumik

Arnab Bhaumik travelled to Sibsagar, the ancient capital of the Ahoms, to document the festival of Rongali Bihu, held during the Assamese new year. He documented Rongali Bihu’s relationship with agriculture and fertility, where domesticated animals are washed and fed on the occasion. In Ahom families, Bihu is about showing respect to elders, gifting new gamosas (a white rectangular piece of cloth with red borders) and preparing traditional food, followed by gathering of the community at the village naamghar (prayer hall).

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Dipak Kumbhar
Dipak Kumbhar

Dipak Kumbhar highlights the craft of making various stringed musical instruments by the legendary sitarmakers of Miraj. The sitarmakers have been repairing and making sitars since the time of the founding father of the craft, Faridsahib Sitarmaker, who established the industry in the late 19th century by carefully studying the science of acoustics. Many of India’s famous musicians get their instruments made from Miraj, which has also produced many classical singers.

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Mrigank Kulshreshta
Mrigank Kulshreshta

Mrigank Kulshreshta made a trip Meghalaya to cover the festival of Behdienkhlam, celebrated by the Jaintia tribe in June-July. The rituals of the Behdienkhlam festival is performed by the daloi (chief of the tribe) and young men beat the roof of every house with bamboo poles to drive away evil spirit, plague and other diseases. The festival has roots in animist cult popular in the region and involves pulling tall chariots, specially made for the occasion.

Perumal Venkatesan
Perumal Venkatesan

Venkatesan Perumal (PeeVee) is passionate about Bangalore’s history, which he wishes to trace through the various inscription stones lying around in obscure parts of the city. These stones contain inscriptions that provide critical information on a variety of topics. Some concerned citizens have come together to protect, preserve and decipher these stones, and PeeVee wants to shed light on their work while he also visits the original locations where these stones were rescued from.