Shobha Deepak Singh makes London debut

May 25th, 2008 - 2:26 pm ICT by admin  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, May 25 (IANS) Shobha Deepak Singh, Delhi-based director of the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, has opened a spectacular exhibition here of her photographs, drawing admiration from the audience. Singh was born into one of India’s premier industrial families - the Shrirams of Delhi. Her father, the late Lala Charat Ram, headed Shriram Pistons and helped build up Delhi Cloth Mills (DCM).

Like her mother - and a vocalist cousin belonging to the other branch of the family - Singh’s heart lies in the arts.

Although she has had no formal training in photography, Singh is clearly a natural and her photographs drew admiration from a large crowd that attended the launch of her exhibition Thursday at the Nehru Centre of Indian Arts in London.

What is striking about her photography is that she uses non-digital SLR cameras and no flash.

Singh began her career by taking photographs of the Ram Lila folk-plays - a traditional north Indian tale from the epic Ramayana - at the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, the reputed arts centre that she runs in New Delhi.

“I noticed that professional photographers who were too slow would sometimes miss key moments in the play. So I got fed up and started taking pictures myself.”

The arts run deep among the Shrirams who - unusually for industrial families - are soaked in culture.

Singh is not only a photographer - she learnt dance from Birju Maharaj, among India’s best known Kathak exponents, instrumental music from sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and theatre from Ebrahim Alkazi.

She specialised in costume and ornament designing and helped revive the dying art of Mayurbhanj Chhau, a traditional folk dance of Orissa.

Singh’s mother Sumitra Charat Ram founded the Shriram Kala Kendra and learnt music and dance.

And her first cousin Vinay Bharat Ram - the son of her paternal uncle - is a highly regarded classical vocalist who was trained by the sitar maestro Ravi Shankar and others.

“Art is everywhere in our family. My mother threw a classical music concert on the night of India’s independence. It lasted all night long.

“My earliest memories are of attending all-night concerts and falling asleep on wooden chairs. Later in my life, I received 100-percent encouragement from both my father and my husband,” Singh told IANS.

Singh, who was awarded the Padma Shri in 1999 for her services to the performing arts in India, said she hoped the London exhibition would be “the first step towards a book”.

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