‘Between Nothingness and Eternity’ with Ajay Noronha

On an average, how many random pictures do you capture everyday? Imagine this, you are at a beach, taking a stroll and then you pull out your smartphone from your pocket to take a photograph of the crimson sunset. But what exactly is that thing that makes you go ‘click’? Is it the constant urge of sharing things on social media, or just to capture a moment? Of course, the answers will vary.

In this selfie-obsessed world of hashtags, people are constantly hellbent on documenting almost everything in their daily lives. We can like, comment and re-post activities of our friends. But are photographs losing their charm in this mannered world? Sometimes it is a yes and sometimes it is a no.
Last Saturday (February 1st) an odd bunch of people gathered at the quaint MCubed Library in Bandra. Mumbai Local – a community arts initiative by Junoon, founded by Sameera Iyenger and Sanjna Kapoor, has been delighting Mumbai’s niche crowd of art-lovers through its regular monthly programs. Being a first time visitor to the library, I was quite amazed at the huge collection of books. As I entered the brightly-lit room, a group of people were busy setting up the projector. There was a certain buzz around the whole place. That Saturday evening the art and film enthusiasts huddled together for a rendezvous with Mumbai-based cinematographer and filmmaker, Ajay Noronha.
Image Courtesy: JunoonTheatre/Flickr
"Photography or filmmaking for me is a medium through which I can explore the idea of creating an image of a loved one," Ajay Noronha said. In the interactive session, he spoke about his recent documentary film, A Picture of You. The documentary is about how Ajay Noronha found his identity in a quest of knowing his father whom he lost when he was just a little boy of six. The film travels down memory lane where he was like a chronicler constantly filming his family members, specially his mother, elder brother and sister. "For me, one of the biggest moments of joy was when I chanced upon a bunch of old negatives… they were coming to life almost after 35 to 40 years," recalls Ajay.
Documentary films are very limpid. There are no extra layers or polished, crisp editing. The audience was shown certain clips of this documentary during the session. In a certain clip, a photograph was shown slowly burning, as flames licked its edges. The shot gave me goosebumps. It reflected a sense of completeness, a fragment of memory which was perhaps, lost forever. When asked how the documentary film changed him as a person, Ajay Noronha replied, "At the end of the day, the biggest realization was accepting oneself with all the imperfections". In a shot of his mother, Ajay focused the camera on her for a few seconds until she shrugged him off by saying "Chal, close now, let me go to sleep" and then it was cut to black.
Mumbai Local’s session with Ajay Noronha titled ‘Between Nothingness and Eternity‘ was lively and enlightening. In each discussion after a clip was shown, the audience got an insight into the life of Ajay Noronha – a son’s journey to discover his father. On this quiet yet interesting Saturday evening, this session evoked a certain question in my mind – How significant is a photograph in our turbulent lives where social media rules?
Mumbai Local’s sincere efforts to embed art into our daily lives and provoking us to think about things which we sometimes ignore is highly appreciated. Don’t miss the next session on February 21 with Ben Rivers, renowned writer, educator & drama-therapist, at Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Byculla.

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