The Unnoticed Chitpore Tales

 
Worshippers offer Namaz during holy Ramadan at one of the biggest mosques in Kolkata, Nakhoda Mosque. Photograph/ Saibal Das

Worshippers offer Namaz during holy Ramadan at one of the biggest mosques in Kolkata, Nakhoda Mosque. Photograph/ Saibal Das

This story was originally published in December 2011.

While exploring Chitpore in Kolkata, photographer Saibal Das experiences different moods, drama and stories dwelling on these streets.

"My photographs are an exploration of different faiths, the red light district of Sonagachhi and Kumartuli, and the neighbourhood of clay artisans."—Saibal Das

“My photographs are an exploration of different faiths, the red light district of Sonagachhi and Kumartuli, and the neighbourhood of clay artisans.”—Saibal Das

Kolkata may look drab and grey, but the city is an amazing blend of images and realities with no clear boundaries between the beautiful and the hideous.

Chitpore is the only street in the city with a strangely conflicting character. It is quintessentially Kolkata, where the palaces and ornate warehouses have now turned into slums, backyards, and verandas of stately homes.
Kolkata’s brief but colourful history merges flawlessly in this street. It has now been renamed Rabindra Sarani, after the Nobel Prize-winning Bengali poet, whose ancestral seat is situated here. The road has distinct zones coloured by the cultures and lifestyles of aristocratic Bengali families, Marwaris, Muslims and even traders from Rajasthan.

My photographs are an exploration of different faiths, the red light district of Sonagachhi and Kumartuli, and the neighbourhood of clay artisans. It is a place of fascinating contrasts.

Devotees come all the way from Bankura District for the festival of Annakut at Modhanmohan Tala. Photograph/ Saibal Das

Devotees come all the way from Bankura District for the festival of Annakut at Modhanmohan Tala. Photograph/ Saibal Das

Some Rules for Street Photography

  • Observe a place and internalise it. Try tobecome a part of it. The subjects around youare your own people. Listen to local inhabitants.
  • Do not be very obvious when you shoot.Avoid carrying a big camera bag or backpack.Likewise, avoid wearing clothes that areuncommonly different from what others wear inthat place.
  • If someone stops you from shooting pictures,try to be calm rather than get agitated.
  • At times, you may have to shoot pictures of people only to please them.Talk to the locals about the different things that happen on the street or locality at different times of the day.
  • Leave your transport behind and walk around the place.
  • Try to reach your destination early in the morning and try to stay till midnight, as things often turn dramatic at odd hours

About Saibal Das
Saibal Das is a Kolkata-baseddocumentary photographer who has been associated with many well-known periodicals. He has travelled extensively to many countries to photograph events.

 

Tags: Street Photography, april 2011, photojournalist, documentary photography, Photo feature, Saibal Das, Kolkata, Rabindra Sarani