riteshuttamchandani

Ritesh Uttamchandani (@riteshuttamchandani) /riteshuttamchandani
To understand a little about how politics works in India, one has to go its smaller towns and villages. In the constituency of our Prime Minister, before it became so, lives a man named Arun Pathak. Six years elder to me, he is the general secretary/spokesperson of the Shiv Sena, a nationalistic political party with roots in Bom.. Err, sorry., Mumbai. Pathak would prefer if you call him a social activist, not a politician and he casually brushes aside any mention of the Shiv Sena’s opposition to North Indian migrants in Mumbai. Pathak’s list of social activism is unique. In 1997, when I was in First Year Junior College, he campaigned for the shutting down of liquor stores in Varanasi and Ayodhya. To get attention he climbed a 300 foot tower and came down only when the police gave him a written assurance that they would indeed close the shops. A year after, while I was strugging to wrap my brain around Debtors/Creditors, Pathak organized an event celebrating the Babri Masjid demolition. The flags put up as decoration were pulled down by the cops and a miffed Pathak consumed 50 pills of Valium at the police station. Three days later he woke up and realized that the officer in charge, a Mr. Singh was still on duty. So he consumed 50 more valium pills and finally, Mr. Singh and his subordinate were expelled for misconduct. In 2005, in my first year at the Hindustan Times, Pathak boarded a boat from the ghats, rowed to the deeper part of the Ganga, tied a stone to his waist and leaped in. His friends jumped in and rescued him but a small riot followed. Exhausted by the professional suicide attemptor, director Deepa Mehta shot the rest of her film “Water” in Sri Lanka. I photographed Pathak in 2009, for a story in the OPEN Magazine. He came to meet me at the ghats, flanked by two ageing security guards and was a bit uncomfortable talking to a photographer wearing shorts and a tshirt. He made a snide remark about it but I ignored lest he decides to kill himself in retaliation. This photograph is part of a trio of portraits I made of people who court/use/suffer due to the “business” of death. Minor coincidence, that the protagonists are all from Uttar Pradesh!To understand a little about how politics works in India, one has to go its smaller towns and villages. In the constituency of our Prime Minister, before it became so, lives a man named Arun Pathak. Six years elder to me, he is the general secretary/spokesperson of the Shiv Sena, a nationalistic political party with roots in Bom.. Err, sorry., Mumbai. Pathak would prefer if you call him a social activist, not a politician and he casually brushes aside any mention of the Shiv Sena’s opposition to North Indian migrants in Mumbai.

Pathak’s list of social activism is unique. In 1997, when I was in First Year Junior College, he campaigned for the shutting down of liquor stores in Varanasi and Ayodhya. To get attention he climbed a 300 foot tower and came down only when the police gave him a written assurance that they would indeed close the shops. A year after, while I was strugging to wrap my brain around Debtors/Creditors, Pathak organized an event celebrating the Babri Masjid demolition. The flags put up as decoration were pulled down by the cops and a miffed Pathak consumed 50 pills of Valium at the police station. Three days later he woke up and realized that the officer in charge, a Mr. Singh was still on duty. So he consumed 50 more valium pills and finally, Mr. Singh and his subordinate were expelled for misconduct. In 2005, in my first year at the Hindustan Times, Pathak boarded a boat from the ghats, rowed to the deeper part of the Ganga, tied a stone to his waist and leaped in. His friends jumped in and rescued him but a small riot followed. Exhausted by the professional suicide attemptor, director Deepa Mehta shot the rest of her film “Water” in Sri Lanka. 
I photographed Pathak in 2009, for a story in the OPEN Magazine. He came to meet me at the ghats, flanked by two ageing security guards and was a bit uncomfortable talking to a photographer wearing shorts and a tshirt. He made a snide remark about it but I ignored lest he decides to kill himself in retaliation. This photograph is part of a trio of portraits I made of people who court/use/suffer due to the “business” of death. Minor coincidence, that the protagonists are all from Uttar Pradesh!source: https://www.instagram.com/riteshuttamchandani

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