Courtesy of Somenath Mukhopadhyay
Somenath Mukhopadhyay, born in 1968, is a self-taught photographer from a small town in West Bengal, India. Mukhopadhyay completed his Post-Graduation from the Rabindrabharati University in Kolkata in 1993 in English Literature. At present he is teaching English Language and Literature in his native town. He has worked as a freelance writer for The Statesman, a news daily published from Kolkata. After spending a few years in painting and writing, he took to photography as an expression of creativity. As early as in 2007 Mukhopadhyay won National Awards in Photography, instituted by Photo Division, Govt. Of India. It was primarily the pictorial charm of Bengal’s countryside that impelled him venture into the world of photography. However, this excitement was short-lived as the changing landscape of the countryside, the rise of brick kilns, sand mining from river beds and above all an unsustainable growth of urbanity brought a new turn to his artistic career. Lately he has been working on the issues of environment, health, human rights, justice etc. Be it the victims of Arsenic pollution of ground water in the villages of West Bengal, pollution of rivers or dismantling an artists’ colony in the name of urban development in New Delhi, his camera has been constantly focusing on similar issues. Recently he has been working on the life and work of the laborers in Yangon fish market in Myanmar. His works have tried to simulate a fictional touch to his journalistic narrative with a purpose of creating a surrealistic appeal.
Professional: Winning Entry: THE STYX
Yamuna is the largest tributary river of the Ganga in northern India. It originates from the Yamunotri glacier at a height of 6,387 m on the south western slopes of Banderpooch peaks (38° 59′ N 78° 27′ E) in the lower Himalayas in Uttarakhand. It travels a total length of 1,376 km by crossing several states, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and has a mixing of drainage system of 366,233 km2 before merging with the Ganga at Allahabad i.e., a total of 40.2 % of the entire Ganga basin. The river accounts for more than 70 % of Delhi’s water supplies and about 57 million people depend on river water for their daily usage (CPCB 2006)
Spanning across the length of 1376 km and crossing several states of India, the Yamuna river has passed by the country's capital New Delhi. Known as the lifeline of the city of Delhi, the river has suffered the worst down the stream due to untreated sewage, industrial effluents, the dumping of garbage, dead bodies, immersion of idols, temple wastes etc. The 20 kilometers stretch of river in the capital has one of the highest levels of industrial pollution in the country. As per a recent report , the level of industrial pollution in Yamuna is nearly 13 times more than the permissible limit. The river seems to be choked with the voluminous toxic froth that looks icebergs. This often proves hindrance to the local boatmen finding their way down the river. About hundred sewage drains of Delhi are pouring their wastes in the river. The polluted water of the river is also causing harm to the cattle and vegetables grown on the riverside. However, religiosity knows no law as seen in the images of people dipping themselves and praying to God, standing in knee-deep water of the river on the eve of Chhat festival.
Confined in my own house with little or no flexibility of movement due to govt regulations and very limited scope of photography, I decided to shoot this portfolio of images. I am indebted to these cute models who are my near relations and some local children. I have observed them closely during this ongoing lock-down period and in my work I have tried to document their changing lifestyle. Roof tops have now replaced their favourite playgrounds and windows are the newest hotspots in the quarantine period. Masked faces find fancy in the twirls and whirls of their flowing gowns. The bad boys are not bad enough because they are nosedived into their online classes streaming through the Net.
A plethora of diverse narratives and feelings - I have tried to include in these images. This is going to be a full length work that will accommodate many other images in the future.