Interview of Arjun Kamath
- You studied Information Science at B.M.S College of Engineering, what made you to choose photography as your career?
A: From young age I was interested in creativity but I realized it much later in my life. While I was pursuing engineering, I went for a trip to Delhi with my family, I carried a Canon’s point and shoot camera. I always liked playing with the camera. During that trip, I took full advantage of the small camera and shot many photographs of the places. After returning to Bangalore, I shared those in Facebook and for the first time in my life, I received lot of appreciations not only from my family and friends but also from people who didn’t know me. This inspired me and eventually I bought DSLR, started working with it, won couple of awards that encouraged me to keep going. I realized that engineering isn’t my cup of tea so, kept on shooting and shooting. I played a small role in 3 Idiots and at that time I got to know how the work is being done in films. I always wanted to depict stories through films, pictures and this is also one of the reasons I opted for photography while studying engineering.
- Did you get family support from the beginning?
A: Yes, throughout. They were supportive but bit scared and nervous too because I started acting and photography during my 3rd year of engineering. They advised me to complete engineering and carry out with whatever I wish to do in future. They never discouraged me. They always helped me to prioritize things at the correct time. I’m glad that they gave me the direction and support to succeed.
- If not photography, what other career option(s) you had in your mind?
A: Probably, I would have tried stand-up comedy because people say that I’m quite funny (laughs).
- How did the idea of “Coming Out” on Truth Theory come in your mind? How did you implement it?
A: Since I’m a cinematographer also, I was shooting a documentary on Scotch-Whisky at Scotland for a friend of mine, directed by Andrew(American Filmmaker). We travelled a lot for this. One day, while traveling, Andrew asked me about my upcoming plan. He asked whether my parents would force me to marry. I clarified him that my parents are very open-minded. Until and unless, I feel to get married, they won’t force me to do so. India is changing and unlike, my parents there are many parents who don’t force their kids to get married soon. But my parents would never have accepted me if I was a gay. Few things still didn’t change yet. In India, sexuality matters a lot. We were having casual conversation. I was thinking to do a photo-story regarding this. The world would never accept two girls coming out of the closet. While studying filmmaking in Los Angeles for three and a half years, I had come across many gay friends of mine. I knew about their hardships. I just wanted to portray this and that is how the idea came out and I started working on it. Without thinking much about appreciation or criticism on social media, I just did it.
- You’re an eminent photographer. You showcase various societal issues through several photographs. Amongst them, ‘Avani’ got a special mention at the 7th Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival in 2017. Say us something about ‘Avani’.
A: ‘Avani’ was another simple story. I wanted to prove myself that I can create stories which will leave impact. ‘Avani’ is about gender equality. This was a bigger success than “Coming Out”. Even though I portray social issues, I never try to give ‘gyaan’ (laughs). It got featured in The Hindu, The Times of India, Deccan Herald, Deccan Chronicle, etc.. It was a photo-series, I made a short film using the still images. I submitted the video montage to several film festivals. It also got mention in Los Angeles International Film Festival.
- One of your clicks got published in National Geographic’s Daily Dozen on May 9, how do you feel when you are getting so much success in your sphere?
A: It feels great. It means that something was unique in my picture cause National Geographic takes only 12 pictures around the globe per day. Out of so many entries, my image was one of those 12 which means my work had some interesting flavor. I was very happy.
- You seem to be a traveller, do you visit places for capturing the moments only?
A: Yeah, I love traveling. My parents also love traveling so, we choose such places for trips which can be photographed well. I’m a family-oriented person so, I like to spend time with my father and mother. On one hand, I can spend quality time with them and on the other hand, I can carry out my work also. The combination is perfect. For me, family and friends are priorities. I won’t choose career over them so, having both by my side feels blessed.
- What are your upcoming projects?
A: I’m working on two photo-stories. I’ve planned to release one in July and it will portray another sensitive issue. For the other photo-story, I’ve approached a Bollywood actor & she has shown interest in it. I hope everything goes perfectly fine. I’m also working on a screenplay for a feature film, this will take much time to get finished.
- Now-a-days, we can see that anyone having a DSLR is being given the tag of a ‘Photographer’. What are your opinions regarding this?
A: To be honest, if you want to stand out of the crowd, you will have to make a difference in the world of art. You need to choose a rare perspective and shoot it.
- Do you have any piece of advice for the aspiring photographers or cinematographers?
A: Keep shooting as much as you can. There’s no tutorial for this. You can only learn by shooting. Be fearless and bold but be sensitive as well.
- A small message to your fans.
A: I’m grateful for your support from the beginning. This is what encourages me and helps me to keep going. Keep loving me. Hope to deliver you better.
- Few words for LaughaLaughi.
A: I’m very happy the way you reached out to me. I really loved the way you conducted the interview, you let me speak without any interruption. I’m glad. It’s a good platform that you guys are providing to the world around you, an honest window, actually.
Edited by-Deep Bhattacharya.