Poetry in motion

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | CRIS
Published Jun 5, 2016, 12:14 am IST
Updated Jun 5, 2016, 12:14 am IST
Unlike film-based photography, in digital photography, the photographer has to be familiar with post-processing.
Noted Kuchipudi danseuse Prateeksha Kashi spins and springs while she portrays little Krishna taming Kaliya, the serpent
 Noted Kuchipudi danseuse Prateeksha Kashi spins and springs while she portrays little Krishna taming Kaliya, the serpent

Hareesh N. Nampoothiri was always fascinated by the world of colours and images. At first these came out as little drawings and paintings. Slowly he got his hand on an old film camera used by his dad, and Hareesh began clicking pictures of the traditional art form of Kathakali. Around a decade ago, he started a blog on Kathakali and got a bridge camera for himself.

(Top to bottom) Astha Dixit performing on Baba Bulleh Shah’s famous Sufi poetry Tere Ishq Nachaiyaan; The mood is sringara, as Rama Vaidyanathan elegantly presents her heroine in the Swathi Thirunal composition Pannagendra Sayana(Top to bottom) Astha Dixit performing on Baba Bulleh Shah’s famous Sufi poetry Tere Ishq Nachaiyaan; The mood is sringara, as Rama Vaidyanathan elegantly presents her heroine in the Swathi Thirunal composition Pannagendra Sayana

 

More opportunities came his way to write about different forms of dance. With each new writing, new pictures were taken, the camera turning at first into an entry-level DSLR and then a pro-range gear. Appreciation came from accomplished dancers even as a modest Hareesh says, “It is the performers who inspire me to take good pictures. When they perform well, it naturally makes my photographs better.”

(Above) “Oh Krishna, come closer to me...,” says the nayika as Meenakshi Sreenivasan translates the mood effectively to the audience; (below) What if there is an argument between Lakshmi and Parvathi over their husbands? Here is Parvathy Sreevallabhan and Sandra Pisharody, young Mohiniyattam danseuses, role playing the Goddesses.(Above) “Oh Krishna, come closer to me...,” says the nayika as Meenakshi Sreenivasan translates the mood effectively to the audience; (below) What if there is an argument between Lakshmi and Parvathi over their husbands? Here is Parvathy Sreevallabhan and Sandra Pisharody, young Mohiniyattam danseuses, role playing the Goddesses.

 

Kathakali maestro Kalamandalam Gopi in a thoughtful mood, as he gets ready for the night’s performanceKathakali maestro Kalamandalam Gopi in a thoughtful mood, as he gets ready for the night’s performance

Hareesh is now a visual design consultant by profession and as he’d say, an art lover by obsession. He has with him huge collections of pictures of many Indian art forms, that he not only clicks, but also studies. “I doubt if many actually see beyond the visual grandeur of these shots. Capturing a live stage performance is quite challenging. Knowing the dance form, the style of the dancer(s) on stage and having some idea of what’s happening on the stage is what really make dance photographs meaningful. That and meeting all the technical qualities of a good photograph and also making sure that the artist/art is presented in good light.”

 

Rama Vaidyanathan All this knowledge come out as captions like these: “Most people will see Arya (the dancer) or her colourful attire. But it speaks much more than that. She is portraying Anandanartana Ganapathi, so the mood is that of anandam and the mudra is that of Ganapathi.”

Left alone in the dark, guided by the fears imposed by the society, as performed by Mallika Sarabhai, from her  contemporary dance production Women with Broken WingsLeft alone in the dark, guided by the fears imposed by the society, as performed by Mallika Sarabhai, from her contemporary dance production Women with Broken Wings

Post-processing is an important step for Hareesh. “Unlike film-based photography, in digital photography, the photographer has to be familiar with post-processing as well to be more effective. It is not unusual for a venue to have poor lighting or bad stage setting. It poses additional challenges to the dance photographers to click and then post-process their images so that these shortcomings don’t show up in the final image. Not that everything will be done in post-processing. You need a fine balance and the aim should be to capture the scene in such a way that it could go to the final stage with minimal post-processing applied.”

 

He has also authored three books, the last one being a title on digital photography published by State Institute of Languages. And the first documentary he has directed — Thouryathrikam — is on Kathakali.

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