Sooni’s Salaam to Parsis


March 13, 2013

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Right away, I have to admit that I’ve never felt as elated as I did at the opening of the exhibition of photographs on Parsis at the Chemould-Prescott Gallery on Tuesday.

By D.K. Bose | Asian Age

The photos are a labour of emotion by Sooni Taraporevala, clickmaestro, scriptwriter and film director, who has paid an ode to her diminishing community via portraits, studies and documentary shots of Parsis at home, on the streets, at the racecourse, maidans, Marine Drive, agiaries and fire temple — to mention just some of the locations.

The photos in varying sizes — black and white and colour have been printed with artistry — displayed thoughtfully with an enclave dedicated to the Parsis who have “gone, but not forgotten” including Homi Sethna, Pilloo Pochkhanwalla and the man who taught me everything that’s good about journalism, Behram Contractor aka Busybee.

An anonymous clutch of ladies engaged in conversation on the road, with a street dog curled up unmindful of the chatter, tells an unspoken story, and is wittily titled “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie”. And my vote also goes out to the study of the young priest inspecting a video game. The modern mingles with the traditional here.

Some of the photos were earlier shown at the Harvard University. For the Mumbai show, it must have been quite a chore to give them an added dimension. But that’s Sooni, intact with her Mona Lisa smile, addictively clicking pictures of the hordes of guests arriving — before the appointed time of 7 pm — and signing copies of the smartly-produced catalogue. The catalogue is dedicated to her husband, Firdaus, who was there with their son Jahan and daughter Iyana.

To be sure, the gallery was thronged by Parsis, but on looking closely actually there was a cosmopolitan crowd, including Shyam and Neera Benegal, Charles Correa, photographers Ketaki Sheth and Sheena Sippy, Gerson Da Cunha, Minakshi Raja, Rafique Baghdadi and Shama Habibulla.

Aah! But it was an occasion to soak in the pictures rather than socialise. And to be honest, it was an event I ventured out to after a long, long time. At least, I can substantiate my statement now that if you care for photography, which raises the bar, catch the show before it ends at the Chemould-Prescott on April 6. And sign in the comments book, suggesting a sequel please. I did.