The universal themes of childhood, innocence, familial love and homeland ties harmoniously intertwine in a captivating visual symphony within Vimal Chandran's video series, Born in Kerala. The fact that the conception of this series comes from an intimate personal place and yet it has such a universal appeal is what I find most intriguing.
At the center of the photo series is Vimal’s three-year-old nephew, Tanay. His innocent curiosity as he explores the landscapes of Palakkad, his native village alongside his uncle lights up each frame. These places are new for Tanay but for Vimal, who was born in 1984, in the same village, these sites hold fond nostalgia-laden memories. Tanay is the soulful mirror reminding Vimal of his carefree childhood days. Through Tanay’s eyes, Vimal re-visits familiar spaces and memories, which, in turn, also gives the viewers a window into Vimal’s boyhood days. The strong personal bond that Vimal shares with his nephew blossoms throughout the series and that’s what does such innate justice to the themes he has captured. As you view Tanay in the series, you can’t help thinking about Apu from Panther Panchali, as he runs around through rural Bengal.
You must have heard the saying “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Vimal’s series exemplifies that. There is an effortless rustic charm to the places that his lens has captured. The uncomplicated joy that you can see in the twinkle of Tanay’s eyes as he explores the rural delights makes the series stand out so distinctively. Vimal had no shortage of modern technology as he was creating this project. A DJI mini drone, a SONY DSLR and his mobile phone combined with his technical prowess made this series come alive. The charm of simplicity is contained thematically even though it is modern gear that makes it possible.
While interviewing Vimal, he talked to me about the death of his father three years ago. He strongly believes that he sees the spirit of his father come back to the earthly realm through young Vinay. It was a powerful moment of personal reflection for me when Vimal mentioned this. I realized that many a time, my grandmother has mentioned how she sees within me a reincarnated form of my late grandfather, who passed away a year before I was born. Now, I am not making a claim about truth and whether reincarnation exists in reality but rather exploring a statement of personal faith. Love and faith often culminate into powerful emotions and that is evidently visible whether you listen to my grandma talk about Dadubhai (that’s what I endearingly call grandpa) or look at Vimal’s magnificent series, Born in Kerala. I find a tranquil sense of satisfaction in believing that several years back, a young Vimal had ventured to these very places with his father, in the same way that young Tanay explored them with his uncle.
Find out more about Vimal Chandran and his works here.
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