My Best Shot: Mukesh Parpiani
This article was originally published in August 2010.
Why This is My Best Shot
There are times when photography makes you realise how small the world really is. By sheer coincidence, you photograph the same face in the crowd at certain intervals of time. And then one day, that person is gone. Such experiences, though apparently insignificant, leave me very sensitive, wondering about the world and human life at large. The story of my favourite photograph goes back a long way—even before this picture was taken. At that time, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Frontier Gandhi) had been brought from Pakistan to Bombay Hospital for treatment. It so happened that a baby girl was bornin the adjacent room. Her father, a political party worker from Dombivli who was also known to me, brought her to get Frontier Gandhi’s blessings. I took a photograph of this moment, which was then published on the front page a newspaper called The Daily.Years later, I happened to meet the same girl—a grown-up version—in a different context. And that is when I made my favourite shot. This picture appeared on front page of the national daily called The Indian Express.
Where and When I Shot This Image
I captured this frame in 1991, in Dombivli. I had gone there to photograph the municipal elections.
How I Achieved It
At the municipal election counting centre, I noticed a little girl reaching out her hands to hold a police constable’s rifle. There was such joy and glee on her face. I simply had to make this photo. At the time, I did not realise who the little girl was. On that same day, I came across the party worker I had met at the Bombay Hospital years ago. He told me that this little girl, now grown-up, was the baby I had photographed with Frontier Gandhi! I remember feeling absolutely thrilled at the strange coincidence. It felt as though my path was fated to cross with that of the little girl, after all those years. Four years later, I went back to look for her. I found out that her father had been murdered in a local dispute. Nobody could say where his daughter was. I would have continued to take pictures of her periodically, over her growing years, had I found her.
The Gear I Used to Get This Shot
I used a Nikon SLR film camera with a 35mm lens.
About Mukesh Parpiani
Mukesh Parpiani prefers to portray the true essence of society and politics. This Mumbai-based photographer has worked with three newspapers: The Daily, The Indian Express and Mid-Day. Currently, he is the head of Piramal Gallery at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA)in Mumbai. He continues to indulge in street photography as he finds India’s diversity to be an interesting subject for photography.