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Jamia students, mentor head for Cannes World Photography Awards

By Vishnu Makhijani, IANS,

New Delhi : Beating off a stiff challenge from eight academies, two mass communications students of the Jamia Millia Islamia here and their mentor have won the right to represent Asia at the finals of the Sony World Photography Awards at Cannes next month, where they will face competitors from five other continents.

“It is said that a picture speaks a thousand words. What my students have done is to create pictures that make you think another thousand words,” Farhat Basir Khan, professor of media and communications at Jamia’s Mass Communications Research Centre (MCRC), said of the effort by Neal Kartik and Pranab Kumar Aich that won them a place in the final round.

The duo are post-graduate students at MCRC, working toward a diploma in still photography and visual communications. Both focused on the environment during the Asia round.

“After the recent super success at the Oscars, India can look forward to another triumph, this time at the Mecca of all creative pursuits, Cannes,” a confident Khan told IANS.

Kartik’s winning entry in the Asian round is titled “With Each Diamond Eye” and was taken in Orissa’s Kalinga Nagar that was once a quiet area of paddy fields and lush green forests.

“Today, it feeds construction demands of the fastest growing steel hub of India. This is where flows the river Baitarani, sadly enough with tons of sand deposited in the riverbed due to silting, making making it flood prone,” he explained.

Aich’s photograph is titled “Fallen Angels” and graphically depicts how, with nesting sites vanishing, “it is now not so uncommon to find eggs fallen on the earth, helplessly lying, awaiting to be crushed under the inevitable wheels of human greed”.

The challenge they faced in the Asia round was enormous: fending off student photographers from top academies like the China Academy of Art, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Fatima Jinnah Women University (Pakistan), University of the Philippines, (Saint Petersburg State University of Culture & Arts (Russia), LASALLE College of the Arts (Singapore), Anadolu University (Eskisehir, Turkey) and the formidable Tokyo Zokei University in Sony’s home ground.

The effort won the duo, and their mentor, an all-expenses paid trip to Cannes April 12-19, where they will now face two competitors each from Europe, South America, North America, Africa/Middle East and Australaisa, with the eventual winners taking home Sony digital equipment worth 45,000 euros.

The continental rounds were judged by a prestigious panel including Ruth Eichhorn, director of photography GEO Magazine; Adrian Evans, director of Panos Pictures and Susan Welchman, senior photo editor at National Geographic.

“It is indeed a proud moment for India and Jamia. It is the sheer hard work and determination of Neal and Pranav that has won us this prestigious honour,” Khan said.

“Everything else apart, we are this year celebrating the silver jubilee of MCRC,” he added.

Before the final round, the 12 participants will be put through a workshop where “it will be explained what is expected to them. Thereafter, they will be given state-of-the-art Sony digital cameras to shoot their pictures”, Khan explained.

After that, the winning entries, as also those that made it through the continental round, “will travel across the globe to be showcased in some of the finest galleries across the world”, Khan added.