Gods on the Screen


Surround sound filled my office as we turned up the volume. “Sachinnnn, Sachin!” was the cry as he walked out to bat, one last time. I stared at the screen, transfixed, and within it, saw several TV sets through time… the old flatscreen in my room and the older, fat little CRT that I would gaze at as a kid. Memories are often made of these TV screens. As a country that devours every single reel of cinema and cricket, it isn’t surprising that we admire those whom we talk to on the screen. I had the incredible fortune of meeting Sachin Tendulkar once (yes, he is human… I think). Though it was just one little conversation, I, like everyone else, believe that he is a daily part of our lives, our dreams, our aspirations. We identify with him. We know him.

It is ironic that this glass of pixels is what creates our Gods… the TV tower broadcasts visuals that shape our consciousness. But that is the power of the image. There may be several Sachins in different parts of the country, but until they make it to the big stage, until our eye is turned at them, they will be nobody. The camera plays an integral role in eulogising, in celebrating all that we savour. Like a faded print that lies in our wallet. We keep that photograph because someone is an integral part of our memory.

Someone is an integral part of our memory because we keep that photograph. I do fear something though. If we look at a picture only to find out what it contains, we are being lazy. I browse through my Facebook timeline and assume that I know exactly what my friends are up to. Truth be told, I haven’t spoken to many of them in ages. It was only last year that I saw the Taj Mahal for the first time, but all these years, I grew up with the belief that I knew exactly what it was like. But then, I was wrong. A photograph is an experience, but the experience is the experience.

Tendulkar drove, straight down the ground. As my colleagues cheered the sheer grace of his timing, I knew what I was missing. The Gods were on the screen, but I needed to be there. The next morning, I queued up at the Wankhede, with my cellphone in my pocket. Cameras were not allowed.

This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Better Photography.