For two years from 2006, photographer Amit Mehra kept going back and forth to a place that caught his attention and perhaps even his soul. Today, after what he thought was the end of his love affair with Kashmir, Amit is in the city with a photography exhibition of the very place titled — Kashmir.
“I was on an agency assignment and visited Kashmir in June 2006 for four days to shoot the conflict there. But after the shoot, I had this yearning to go back and I did so in the same year in September,” says Amit.
“Kashmir is a place for photos. You either have conflict or beauty, and either way, a photographer cannot return without any shots from the valley. On Friday, after the prayers there would definitely be some sort of violence, so I would capture that and if I wanted to shoot some scenic scenes I would just go to the Dal Lake,” he adds.
One would expect Amit to be in love with what he shot, but the project began to drain him. “I felt that I wasn’t doing anything different from what the others were doing and so I just lost interest in the project. It was then that I erased almost all the photos. But as a one-last-time thing, I decided to go to Kashmir, without my camera,” he says.
The trick worked. Amit this time, got a chance to meet people, he spoke to them about their struggles. “After the first time I visited Kashmir again, but I began to photograph people. The thing with Kashmir is that every photographer gets the same shot, so I decided to do something different. I got shots of the place but this time, I also got the people involved,” he explains.
Out of the 36 photos on display, Amit has some very interesting stories to tell. “There is one photo of a Shikara. He was talking to me about how his entire life changed because of the turmoil and conflict in the place.
He said, ‘Life is like water, it keeps flowing’ and then proceeded to pour water to the side. It was at this instant that I captured the shot and that stayed with me,” he says....