Veteran actor Shatrughan Sinha inaugurates Padmashri Dr Batra’s ‘Whispers of the Valley’ photography exhibition in Mumbai
The exhibition earnings will be used to help the visually challenged
“Every picture has a story. And it depends on how you look at it,” said Dr Mukesh Batra as he looked around the gallery at his photographs, reminiscing about his years in Kashmir and the valley’s beauty in all its colours. “In India, we don't have four seasons like the rest of the world. That’s the beauty of Kashmir, you can actually experience all seasons distinctively.”
Titled ‘Whispers of the Valley,’ Padmashri awardee and homoeopath Dr Batra’s 52nd photo exhibition was inaugurated by veteran actor and Member of Parliament Shatrughan Sinha at the Dilip Piramal Art Gallery, NCPA in Mumbai this weekend. “We have been very fond of him but after seeing today’s exhibition, we are very proud of him as well. I am extremely happy that I have been invited to this exhibition, where Dr Batra has brought Kashmir alive in front of us again,” said the actor as he took a walk around the gallery, proud of the display.
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We got a chance to talk to Dr Batra about his passion for photography. Here are the excerpts:
Whenever we think about Dr Batra, there’s one thing that pops into our minds — homoeopathy. So how did you get into photography?
I started probably 15 years ago. I was kind of a family photographer and doing well with my basic cameras and my family said, ‘You know, you're taking good pictures.’ We had a patient of ours who was heading Citibank. So they said, we'll throw wine and cheese for you and we shut our office at six o'clock and we’ll start with a few photographs. So I thought if somebody's willing to invest money on my behalf, I couldn't be that bad. So my first exhibition was held about 15 years ago in the Citibank office at Nariman Point. And now this is my 52nd exhibition in 15 years.
What do you like about Kashmir the most?
Kashmir is wonderful. I've been going there for the last 10 years. Last year, I went back for a few days just to capture the autumn pictures. I was lucky because again, I was invited by Kashmir University to talk to 400 postgraduate students in psychology, and so the opportunity also came to take some pictures inside the university. One is where the Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein song was recorded. Of course, the snow is wonderful as well. The powder snow, which is fresh snow, is very soft and is also very good for the skin. That's also something that you get in Kashmir, which you don't get in other parts of the world. And it's also a great skiing destination. I have some very happy memories of Kashmir and I've been there many times and I wanted to complete all the seasons and bring them together. And that's what you see now.
Do you think you have gotten the same recognition in the photography field as in medicine?
I was invited by the Western Australian government just before Covid, to shoot 16,000 wildflowers for them as a state guest. I already had two exhibitions in Dubai and the Dubai government is hosting my exhibition there. It's still on for three weeks. That's again a big recognition for an Indian to be sponsored by Nikon-Middle East Africa (MEA). So I'm very happy that I'm getting recognition as a photographer. And I think what's important is I'm self-taught.
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Which one is your favourite picture amongst these and what’s the story behind it?
See those Tulip gardens? So I was visiting Kashmir to inaugurate a pediatric floor in the hospital which my club had donated. I didn't know that there was a tulip garden. I had just read many years ago that the garden was going to be inaugurated on April 1. So I just happened to be there and Mehbooba Mufti, the then Chief Minister of Kashmir, was coming to inaugurate it. I captured it and when I was coming out, a bomb went off at the famous Chowk there which I missed by a few minutes because I went the other way. So, It was exhilarating.
Like in photography, you went from manual to digital, you have advanced in technology in the same way in medicine.
You have to change with time and modernisation is very important. I actually set up the first digital health program. Even today we have a Case Management System and all our clinics are 24/7. Live data. So from seven countries and 225 clinics, I can get all the live data on my mobile phone. Technology has allowed us to scale, more than that, it has better patient outcomes.
What is the difference or what is common between medicine, art and photography?
I always say that I have learned a lot. As a photographer, I learned patience. I learned the difference between seeing and pursuing. There’s a saying ‘medicine is the art of healing.’ I tell my doctors also, that it’s very important to keep your sensitivity alive. You have to make sure that you're doing some kind of fine arts. Because as a doctor, we still become a little insensitive. We see so much pain, suffering, and death all the time. So, the moment you're doing something that is fine art-related, your sensitivity becomes alive.
Prominent personalities like Zayed Khan, Padmashri Pankaj Udhas, Padmashri Anup Jalota, and Roop Kumar Rathod amongst others were also present at the event.
The exhibition will be held till September 5 between 11 AM to 8 PM at the Dilip Piramal Art Gallery, NCPA, Nariman Point, Mumbai.
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