Mr. Debarshi Duttagupta is acclaimed Calcutta based Photographer. It is an extreme honor for us that he is the only Indian to have been honored with the Nikon Grand Prix Award in 2011 for his exemplary work “Learning to Fly”. A Lawyer by profession and currently heads one of the oldest and largest Pharmaceutical Company. Out of his extremely busy schedule and extensive travelling he still manages to live his passion – Photography.
An extremely down to earth person, Rishi’da, as he is popularly known to the Calcutta Photography community has been associated with various photography endeavors – Cloudvisions and Kolkata180. Every year he organizes a Photography Exhibition for his Company personnel. And for 3 years he and four of his close friends (Team Chhobiwala) has gifted Calcutta 3 brilliant Photography Exhibitions (Moment Um, Punch O Tantrum and ele-Mental). Chhobiwala launched an unique Coffee Table Book – Kashi Kaleidoscope during ele-Mental exhibition in December 2014.
Thank you for your time to Judge the inaugural Street Photography Competition. Here is an exclusive interview (Adda) with our Rishi’da.
1. When and Why did you take up photography?
Hello all. How? Well, my father was a brilliant photographer along with many of my relatives. I guess the photography bug bit me when I was in school. And as far as why is concerned, I don’t think I will be able to answer that ever. When you are passionate about something I guess “Why” is the toughest question to answer.
2. Share with us the moment when you were declared the Nikon 2011 Grand Prix Award Winner.
To be very honest I had forgotten about the competition one I participated as its one of the toughest open photography competition in the World. One day I was deleting mails from my box and suddenly came across an email from Nikon, I decided to open it before deletion and that was the mail which said I was nominated for the final round. And then another mail followed in a month’s time which had the Grand Prix winners name and …..it was my name 🙂
3. What does photography mean to you which Photographer(s) have inspired you the most?
Photography to me is a fantastic stress buster and a platform to get to know wonderful human beings. Leave aside their photographic talent most of them are super human beings including you SSG 🙂
I derive huge inspirations from the photographers I know personally. Apart from that I have some energetic students in Loretto and St Xaviers, they are in that list too.
4. And now for a surprise of most of your fans – tell us about your experience about “Goopy Bagha Phire Elo”.
I know that was coming at some point of this interaction. GBPE happened when I was in class 5. All Satyajit Ray / Sandip Ray movies have junior actors from Patha Bhavan, my school. I was picked with 14 of my class mates. We were taken to Indrapuri Studio and there he was the Master Himself, Manik Dadu was sitting there. We got to spend 16 days with him and his crew, Tapen Dadu and Rabi Dadu and the rest of the crew. We used to wear their shoes and clap, but we could not go anywhere, we really thought that those shoes were reeal. But then Rabi dadu used to tell “Bhoot er raja to toder bor dayeni tai toder kaaj korche na….. It was a fantastic experience, specially when we saw ourselves in the Movie Theatre, Purna Cinema Hall, during the press show.
5. As the Managing Director you have a busy schedule and need to travel a lot. How do you balance Work and Photography?
It is difficult but managing time is not impossible, although now I devote much less time for photography…gets very difficult during April to October, that is the cloud season, then, I MUST SHOOT 🙂
6. Share us about your two unique projects Kolkata 180 and Cloudvision.
Cloudvisions as a project took shape in 2006, to be very frank everything was taken, so I chose to stay with the clouds, and that is how cloudvisions was formed. Later and now I use it was a tool to spread the message of the effect of Climate Change to all my friends and associates.
Kolkta180 again is a panoramic series on Kolkata, my city of birth and residence. I love the city too much to leave it uncovered in my own personal style.
7. You have yet another very interesting hobby – flying Aircraft Simulators. Did your passion for aviation have an influence on Cloudvision?
Yes it did, aviation has everything to do with Cloudvisions, and my passion for desktop simulation is much older than my passion for photography.
8. You travel extensively in India as well as internationally what your perspective on Street Photography in Calcutta?
I believe Calcutta is one of the best cities in the World to photograph, I may sound biased but hey ….this is where I was born. This city has so much variety, It a sheer joy to just walk around the city.
9. Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with Street Photography?
I wont advise, but my suggestion to someone looking to shoot the Kolkata streets would be first roam around the city on foot without a camera, or a cellphone cam will do for the time being, have road side tea, street food, get a feel of the street and then start documenting.
10. Please share a few words on the project “Streets of Calcutta”.
This is a fantastic endeavor and I’m sure there will be a lot of proper documentation of our city by talented lenswoman and lensmen. Good luck to all of you.