Saurav Anuraj, a photographer and a ‘Times Men of the Year Patna 2019’ awardee for creative photography took to the streets of Patna, Bihar to bring attention to the recurrent disaster that ravages his state almost every year.
Titled ‘Mermaid in Disaster’, the photoshoot was in collaboration with Aditi Singh, a fashion student from NIFT Patna. The photographs were posted on Instagram, receiving almost equal doses of appreciation and hate.
A diverse set of opinions on his presentation of the grim situation was natural and expected, but the sexist backlash the model received through media headlines and social media comments was saddening.
A lot of people accused the student-model of staging a publicity event to garner more ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ on her social media handle.
The Logical Indian, therefore, decidedto trace Aditi Singh’s social media handles to find out more about the young model. Her Instagram profile turned out to be private, which gives her the option to filter the people who wish to follow her.
Generally, most celebrities and social media influencers have public profiles for potential-followers. Private profiles are maintained by those who wish to keep their updates and posts accessible to a select few. The very fact punches holes in the argument that she was seeking ‘cheap publicity’ through her photoshoot.
The photographer wrote an explaination the day after his pictures went viral, asking people to understand his intent as an artist.
“Tragedies like this flood, don’t get the attention they deserve because people tend to turn away from negative news. Bihar’s troubles are never discussed in the mainstream and people are oblivious to it, Anuraj said,
After these photographs went up, I received a lot of messages offering the people help,” he said.
Referring to the comments that questioned the model’s smiling face in the midst of a calamity, he said, “We were smiling because we were facing it together. And for photographers, smiling is the most essential part of our art.”
The photoshoot has collected over 10,000 ‘likes’ on Instagram and has become a talking point in the social media.
Needless to say, there were a handful of hateful comments targeted at the student-model.
Twitter user posted a series of sarcastic memes, the undertone of which was sexist, to say the least.
The images, an intentional juxtaposition of the student-model, posing shin-deep in mucky waters was an attempt to highlight the the crisis in Bihar.
“It isn’t easy for a model to pose in such conditions and neither is it easy for a photographer to go through the ordeal of clicking professional pictures in the rain at the risk of damaging his/her camera”, Anuraj wrote in his latest Instagram post.
Three days of heavy rain have flooded homes and hospitals in the capital of Bihar, Patna, killing over 30 people. The city was brought to a standstill over the weekend after many areas submerged in chest-deep water. Three teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in Patna, where schools will remain shut till Tuesday.
The state of Bihar is one of India’s most flood-prone regions whose villages suffer from relentless flooding each year. While there is very little media coverage or political attention channelled towards developing Bihar’s disaster management mechanism, one photoshoot made this year’s flooding a mainstream dinner table conversation.