In a tiny village called Kalap in Uttarakhand, photographer Anshu Agarwal has managed to create something incredible.
A former student of Hyderabad’s English and Foreign Languages University, Agarwal currently takes literacy classes for villagers of all age groups and part of his teaching plan involves the screening of the Harry Potter films for kids, over the weekends.
And awestruck by what was playing out on the screen, the children ended up with one dream — of becoming wizards and witches. Agarwal, who has worked extensively with techniques in levitation photography, then thought up a plan — to recreate the game of Quidditch using a camera, Photoshop, some broomsticks and a borrowed volleyball.
“I’ve been here five months — in this secluded mountainous village. The beautiful people, their language, their culture and these magnificent vistas that surround me give me enough motivation to stay here, in social isolation. The Harry Potter movies are part of an exercise to teach the children English,” says Agarwal. “As many as 40 children took part in the game of Quidditch. We prepared a foot-high wooden bench, mimicked some actions as shown in the movies and arranged for a volleyball. After four weekends of hopping and clicking at different locations of the village I had enough material to work with,” he adds. They even followed the rules of the game, explained in the books.
Agarwal first started taking photos when he received a compact camera as a gift from his sister, seven years ago. He then kept experimenting with hardware and software... finding the experience “very rewarding”.
“I did both my undergrad course and my Master’s in Linguistics from The English and Foreign Languages University. The place gave me enough space to cultivate my aptitude for serious photography. Also, Hyderabad as a city inspired me to communicate with my surroundings. I later found work in a corporate firm in the education space. That was when a friend sent me a link to the advertisement of an NGO which was looking for a teacher at an isolated Himalayan village, in Uttarakhand. Out of curiosity, I applied and, to my surprise, got through.”
The Quidditch series is one the many projects the photographer has on his Facebook page (Anshoots Photography). But this effort — for a bunch of children in a remote village who’re dreaming of the fantastic — is easily one of this best works, so far.
“When they saw the final photos, the children yelled out in amazement. I just couldn’t stop grinning because I knew then that I had brought in some magic into their lives.”