There have been many photographers who were nothing if not artists. One could cite Henry Cartier Bresson, Robert Capa, and Kubota, among others. Santosh Verma belongs to that company. This is the hallmark of Mr. Verma’s work: his deep respect and love for the helpless human creature, and his vision for what lies in life. The use he makes of light is exquisite, and through the use of light (which he handles as if he invented it) he produces his individual images. His mastery of light also emerges in his portraits, for they are luminous with a certain singular perception of beleaguered humanity, and a beautiful use of space within a photograph (Dom Moraes, Writer, Poet, Journalist).
That Santosh Verma is expert in the use of light and texture and color and composition is something I already knew. But this collection of images revealed to me another artist altogether. He is an artist who is far more interested in the spirit that animates the form than the form itself. Verma would never think to dress up a scene, because to do so, would be to alter that which is already perfect (Maia Katrak, CEO, The Republic).
The tarnished bodies of the city arrive, some beloved, some unscrupulous, some determined to leave the grease behind, some picking the scraps of saffron…I wish to hold a sanctuary in their hearts and go to a far better rest than I have ever known.
These are vows that will haunt me for times to come, a poem that we are becoming today we would never be able to write otherwise. Perhaps we are stepping on a razor to be cut into two, or perhaps on a furnace of coals, to be molded with burned sutures.
There is no world that we can observe straight, in the way that we walk or bide our time. The alphabet is only an instrument to hold our sins in a linear motion. If a taxi could go back in time, I should have wanted to see the clouds descend back to the river, to that day we sat holding hands, and counting how many fishermen came back home.
I am not a vegetable, not a fruit, nor a piece of yogurt. But if you divide me into the things I am and the things that you want from me, you might very well be able to taste the bittersweet paths that I take every night back to road that leads to the silent mosque.
There are mirrors I see, that treble the images that stand or recline before my eyes. There are shards of hair, atoms of life, and years of threadbare afternoon siestas–the scissors have seen everything. I see the metals rusted with their age, mahogany on the mosaic floors, the scent of aftershave on a cracking mantelpiece, the odor of an outdated almanac from the wall…
Santosh Verma’s epic photographs bring to life an India that the traditional news media misses. Verma’s India is a world of searing colours and contrasts, as well as triumphs and tragedies. He brings dignity and grace to the daily struggles that are the hidden heart of India (David Rohde, Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Former New York Times, Asia Bureau Co-Chief, Foreign Affairs Columnist for Reuters & The Altantic Monthly).
Let me sleep tonight, until the world is ready to wake up, and pay me my dues. Until morning taps on my shoulder again, let me be a visitor in the chambers of your night. I do not know much about Tagore, but I have seen morsels of cheese in the moon.
I wish the rain stays a bit longer, I wish it keeps drizzling underneath my heels. Her umbrella is a moving roof, and the road of wet and cold cobblestones today is a quiet porch in a temple. The street is not made of alabaster, but at least it is made of rain.
Texts accompanying the photographs, except where attributed, were written by Arup K Chatterjee.
This work was published in the Coldnoon Cities (Mapping the Metropolis) Vol II, as part of the Coldnoon journal.