A chat with lensman Sateesh Paknikar about his new themed calendar which will be released on the first day of Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav
Renowned photographer from the city, Sateesh Paknikar is all set to launch his most awaited calendar for the new year, with the theme ‘Swarmaitra 2018’. It celebrates six decades of friendship between Padma Vibhushan Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma and Padma Vibhushan Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia.
Flautist Chaurasia will do the honours by releasing the calendar today, on the first day of the Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav. Besides capturing the candid relationship between the two maestros, their senior disciples, Dilip Kale and Rupak Kulkarni, will talk about their gurus, their life and work in the calendar format. Sulabha Karandikar has translated the text from English to Hindi.
Paknikar throws more light on ‘Swarmaitra 2018’. Excerpts:
How do you get the insight to catch the beauty of the artists?
I click all the photos during live performances, where the artist is truly and completely engrossed in his/her performance. This deep engrossment does not depend on how the artist appears, but absolutely depends on what he is presenting. The artist pours his heart and soul in his performance and that naturally brings such intense expressions on his face, which gives me an insight to click the person on the stage.
Once the expressions start flowing, the person appears beautiful in his own way; the only skill required in that case is to click the picture with a correct angle so as not to miss the beauty of the person in that mood.
A person usually becomes conscious in front of shutterbugs. How do you manage to make the artist comfortable while clicking him/her?
I click all the pictures without using the flash, in the ambience and lights of the live concerts. In a live concert, the artist is totally absorbed in his own realm of signing or playing the instrument. Therefore, if a flash is used, it gives out too much of bright light, thus disturbing him. Some artists would never tolerate flash lights; artists such as Kumar Gandharva, Pt Ravi Shankar, Kishori (Amonkar) tai, would stop the performance if flash lights were used.
So basically, clicking the pictures, without disturbing the artist, remains your sole intention?
Actually, I never go to the concerts only to click the photos. I also go to listen to the artists. Sometimes I listen to them and then click the pictures or first click the images and then listen to the artists. Since I am very much fond of music, the element of interest is added up naturally, while clicking any picture.
Can you explain the process of short listing the pictures and deciding on the theme?
This year, it has been a different process than usual. The theme was decided first and then the pictures were shortlisted. Shiv Kumarji and Hariprasadji have been friends for 61 years. I have been clicking their photos since last 35 years; I have a collection of 175 photos featuring them. The photos on all the 12 pages have been selected to maintain a flow of their relationship — when they were young, to now in their autumn age.
What goes on in your mind when you are clicking such eminent artists?
Honestly, I don’t have any specific thoughts while clicking the photos. The photos are not clicked with the intention of using them in a calendar. I try to capture the worthy moment. Using these pictures is the later part of the story; it is an application of the photos as people want to possess the images. Since the original copies are not affordable, I try to make them available in the form of calendars.
Hariprasadji and Shiv Kumarji have complimented me on this calendar. I consider it as a very significant accolade for my work. Pu La Deshpande once said this of me, ‘We can hear the musical notes from these extraordinary pictures!’ His words have gratified me. What more can I ask for after receiving words of praise from such notable personalities?