Children of Aashram School,Dala-Uttar Pradesh
[MOST OF THE PICTURES ARE TAKEN BY STUDENTS DURING PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP] When I was leaving for shoot near banaras last month, I was really uncertain about shoot for a temple. Achleshwar Mahadev Mandir foundation called me to make a documentary on role of temples beyond a place of worship. The temple foundation had organized art workshops (theatre and painting) for underprivileged children of ashram school and also a classical music festival in temple premises. I reached dala, a rusty village known for Jaypee cement factory, after doing 33 hours long journey from Jaipur. After a short nap, i visited the school where workshops were going on. Theatre workshop was taken by brilliant brother sister duo Shiva and Karuna and painting classes were taken by Anil, a passionate painter, he depicted folk traditions and art through his paintings. When I entered in theater class of around 30-40 kids,they were acting as birds, trees and animals. I got to know they were participating first time with such activities in school and never seen lot of different people around them so that is the reason initially they were very shy, hesitating and nervous. So when I entered in the room with my camera and heavy bags, all were looking at me in a strange way forgetting their actions and steps, seems like I am stopping them to do their activities. But as soon we build a connection with each other it became very smooth and flawless for them to enjoy what they are doing (My camera was no more a mysterious thing to destruct them). Same was also happening in painting workshop, kids were enjoying and doing superb job . Beautifully drawn curves and carefully build shapes were making their sketches like learned artists. And suddenly, I got to know I also need to take a photography workshop, an unplanned one but I believe that these challenges force you think out of the box. On next day when there were not much kids in the classroom because of holiday, I planned to visit their dormitories and teach them photography their only. My idea was to make them comfortable with the camera and let them be themselves and not over cautious while facing camera. I taught them about light, composition and how camera works, just simple basics and then I also asked them to take pictures of each other while varying locations and looking for light and poses. Some kids were just want to hold the camera and click while some of them were very happy to see through viewfinder. Gradually they have attuned of the camera and started asking their friends to pose for them as lord Krishna, a cricketer and runners. I truly believe sometimes it is important not to teach or not to give spoon feeding rather than let kids or people to explore themselves in their own guidance. On the other side, I also observed that there living conditions were worse, no proper hygiene in food, dirty toilets and dormitories. It wasn't a healthy environment overall, lack of infrastructure, no maintenance, some rooms were without ventilation that lacks even sun light. These kids are living in a miserable conditions . the foundation is trying a bit to make their education better. I hope that foundation or authorities will pay attention to the school environment and all of them grow as happy and curious children and do not lose hope to achieve their true potential.
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