two hours at a photo studio

for two hours today, i was stuck at a photo studio. and the only thing i got out of the visit, is this entry.

even when i had the chance to get out (after completing my errand), the rain stopped me. the reason i was so desperate to run away was because i had seen enough of photographs…digital photographs of strangers.

strangers in groups, strangers in single shots, strangers in passport photos and more.

past the dingy blue corridors, splattered with layers of salivated paan (or in better words, dna of mannerless people – i am a huge fan of CSI) and up on the first floor, is the dressing room with broken chairs and large mirrors.

is this for real? i couldn’t believe what i was seeing. well, for one, i didn’t see the actual shoots and i am so glad i didn’t.

i couldn’t have looked at a woman, clearly past 40, posing in a small green blouse and lehenga, with a huge tire sticking out of her waist. her face had probably four layers of make up. a younger woman was with her too. her bangs were 90 degrees straight, but the rest of her hair was curly. did they really do that to themselves?

no, i am not a supporter of the ‘ideal’ body image promoted by beauty magazines, but was this photo shoot really necessary? perhaps, being themselves would’ve been so much better.

they stood, with two other guys, behind the editor as he loaded the memory card into the computer. i was sitting next to him.

“bhai, tyo pet ghatauna milcha?”

“milihalchani.”

“mildaina bhane hami photo dhulaudainau hai.”

only a few minutes back, the editor guy was removing all the pimples of an adolescent boy. dressed in a yellow michael jackson t-shirt, the picture was for his citizenship. the dhaka topi and the impish little grin, below the faint line of his moustache,  gave it off. a few clicks here and there and his cheeks looked as rosy as a rose when it went through the printer. dude, happy 16!

back to the two ladies. i had to look away when the next photo showed the older lady in an aquamarine blue top, improvised into a short dress. the shot in brief: she was leaning forward on a chair.

after they leave the photographer takes a break. he sips his tea and shows his teeth, “kasto kasto manche auncha hai photo khichna…k bhanne.”

you know they say, it’s not as bad as it sounds. but you got to read it this way, it was way worse than what you just read.

three boys and a girl. a group portrait. the girl in the center, surrounded by the three. they had just come out of the parlor too. gelled up hair and fresh mascara. the oldest guy clearly had problems with the photos:

“hya, kasto chauri pareko dekhecha malai…yo hudaina..dai, tyo chauri hataidinus hai.”

“bhaihalchani.”

then single portraits. the girl in a black dress with a huge slit – designed to show off one long leg till the pelvis. the guys in sunglasses with the typical ‘senti’ pose – the chin resting on the hand which rests on the bent knee…looking down…but that doesn’t make any difference because with the reflectors reflecting on the shades, it didn’t matter where they were looking.

all this while, i was just sitting there on a chair and looking at their photographs. no one was least bothered by my presence.

after all, i was just a stranger to them as well.

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