Infrastructure is one of the basic indicators of a country’s identity and in this respect, India is seeing frenzied activity, given that a lot needs to be done to make up for lost time. From India’s first Formula One racing track to the construction of my family home to New Delhi’s Terminal 3 airport , this series looks at how dreams and ideas get a concrete shape. Concurrently, there is a subtext on seeking new definitions about “the future” and how it can impact societal change.
F1 to the Future
India’s growing position as a rising economy was further enhanced when the country joined the global fraternity of nations that host the glamorous and big money extravaganza of Formula One racing. Held near New Delhi, the inaugural Indian F1 Grand Prix took place in October 2011 at the Buddh International Circuit, spread over 874 acres and estimated to have cost $215 million to build. Designed by renowned German architect and racetrack designer, Herman Tilke, BIC was praised by F1 drivers and observers as a state-of-the-art facility.
While construction was still ongoing, I had the rare chance to photograph the site as an army of workers were speeding up to finish the project on time. With F1 fever in full swing, promotional events included a special run of the Red Bull racing car on New Delhi’s historic Raj Path boulevard, near the colonial landmark structures of India Gate and the President’s estate. A pre-race concert by Lady Gaga added to the festivities as did the India premiere of the film ‘Senna’ based on the late F1 icon Ayrton Senna. The F1 race and the BIC circuit went on to dazzle both India and the world but I was drawn to the unique intersection of two cultures: the high-speed and high-tech world of F1 and the timeless traditions and social reality of India. The shimmering bangles of a newly married Indian bride posing with an F1 car made for a unique visual statement. But photographing a lone worker gazing into infinity sitting under the barricades of the freshly built BIC track made me wonder: Will F1 take him to the future too?
Prix de la Photographie Paris – PX3 – People’s Choice Awards 2012: Gold (Documentary) | Gold (Other) : Book (Series Only) | Gold (Architecture) | Bronze (Other) : Fine Art Pro |
International Photography Awards 2012 – Honorable Mention – Deeper Perspective
E-2 to the Future
As if in sync with a changing India, our family home saw a complete transformation as we embarked on a two year construction project which began in March 2011, offering a visual and sensory feast, mostly bordering on overload. But more importantly, the experience gave us all an opportunity to unburden ourselves of the restrictions of the past in preparation for a journey into the future. In effect, house number 2 in E block was seeking new directions. A construction project is, to say the least, a chaotic and colourful event. A worker holding up a light bulb as his comrades laboured late into the night made for a striking image. And it made me wonder, will the light take them to the future too?
Prix de la Photographie Paris Awards – PX3 – People’s Choice – Second Prize – Documentary (Book Series)
International Photography Awards 2013 – Honorable Mention – Deeper Perspective
T3 to the Future
Despite its stereo-typical image of a land of exotica (thanks largely to a mostly patronizing western viewpoint), there is a new rising India that is defining its stature and unique visual identity in the global village. Modern architectural wonders are usually the shining examples of any country’s new-found prosperity as seen with New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport – Terminal 3. Just before its official opening in July 2010, I had the chance to photograph T3 as a vast empty space devoid of people in a country with a population of over a billion. T3 is the world’s eighth largest passenger terminal spread across 5.4 million square feet with a capacity to handle 34 million passengers annually. The experience of visually capturing a slice of this vastness made me feel like a solitary traveler exploring my own path and identity in the universe. As I photographed some workmen pushing potted plants across a seemingly never-ending walkway, I wondered, will they remain faceless or will T3 take them to the future too?
International Photography Awards – IPA 2011 : Honorable Mention: Professional Categories – Special (Moving Images) / Architecture (Interiors)