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Prashant Panjiar May 21, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in India.
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Widows, Maharashtra, India 2010

Prashant Panjiar (b. 1957, India) is a self-taught photographer. His first self-financed project that received acclaim was his work for the book “Malkhan – the story of a bandit king”. The same year his work in Cambodia was published as “The Survivors – Kampuchea 1984″. He has  worked as photographer and editor in mainstream Indian media and more recently returned to independent photography. He divides his time between working as a photojournalist on assignments often collaborating with non-profits, and working on his own projects. His most recent exhibition “Pan India, a shared habitat” has just completed its tour in India. Panjiar has served on the jury of the World Press Photo Awards in Amsterdam in 2002 & the China International Press Photo Competition in 2005.

About the Photograph:

“Arun Tupatkar’s suicide on 23 March 2010 was the 14th in the village of Pimpri Kalga. It was late in the evening when we, the writer and I, arrived there to meet with his widow Rajni. Relatives and neighbours were visiting the family to offer their condolences – amongst them were a few other farmers’ suicide widows of Rajni’s locality. I asked Rajni if I could photograph her with them. The rubble of an aborted  construction in the courtyard of the home became the setting. The failing light, the shallow depth of field, the anonymity of the other widows all helped focus on Rajni’s  stoic grief. Though shot in a regular 35mm format I knew, even as made the image, that I would need to crop it almost square.”

“Over seven thousand farmers have committed suicide in the Vidarbha region of the Indian province of Maharashtra since 1997. Economic liberalization with no safety net, higher costs of genetically modified seeds & agricultural inputs, truant monsoons & depleted water-tables are some of the reasons for these suicides. Coming after two failed harvests, over 200 farmers have already killed themselves in the first three months of 2010. As the sowing season approaches, more will follow. I prefer to speak about the larger social issues through environmental portraits, telling the stories of ordinary people. I believe having people look into the camera makes the viewer confront them directly, removing the photographer. The unsaid is left to be interpreted by the viewer.”

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