Capturing nature

CHHOBI MELA–2001·exhibition of photographs on nature and wildlife·The Academy of Fine Arts·Kolkata·January 2001

By Dipali Guha
Published: Wednesday 28 February 2001

from the largest land animal to the tiniest insect, from the lazing tiger to warring antelopes, from the floating clouds to the rippling waters nature in its tremendous diversity has been captured on film by 32 photographers, who have come together to set up an exhibition titled 'Chhobi Mela 2001' at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kolkata.

The participants include both amateurs and professionals a forest officer, an actor, a lensman, a wildlife tour organiser and even a mahout (elephant trainer).

Accordingly, while the frames on display have the expert touch, their obvious purpose is to highlight the beauty of flora and fauna across the continents. They reveal the breath-taking magnificence of nature where it is undisturbed by human activity.

The exhibition, now in its fourth year, was started by Bengali screen and television actor Sabyasachi Chakra-barty and professional lensman Pronab Basu, both wildlife lovers. They were encouraged by friends to display the harvest of their trips into the wild, and the success of that first show spawned three more.

Among the exhibits, which are accompanied by a daily slide show, some very striking ones are Kuttappan Joseph's photographs of resting felines; Pinaki Roy's fabulous cloudscapes; Sahir M Latif's electric blue lake; Ajit Mondal's monkey grooming its baby; Hirok Nandi's exquisite imprint of a marine animal on wet sand; Saikat Bhadra's bird silhouetted against the setting sun; Chakrabarty's monitor lizard poised to strike; and Basu's three-frame sequence of a rhino and its baby.

Rabisankar Dey has an unusual picture of a matchbox lying on muddy soil, its orange, twin-cat label contrasting with the brown earth. A preying mantis holds a dragonfly in its grip in Tushar Kanti Dutta's close-up of a mortal combat. A perspective is offered in another photograph, by Anjan Paul, where the mantis sits on a human arm, looking much less menacing.

The exhibition also displays biosphere statistics, snippets of information on little-known facts about birds and animals and their habits. It urges the public to be aware of nature and conserve what is left of it. The show has so far travelled only to a few places outside Calcutta, but the organisers hope to take it to other metropolises in order to spread the message.

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