EX­PLOR­ING IN­DIA’S SILENT VAL­LEY

Airports India - - CONTENTS - TEXT: UMA NAIR

Sun­light falls seraphim like through the canopy of the rain for­est. Lim­ited space in a dense ev­er­green for­est can throw up marvels in the bio­di­ver­sity of flora and fauna. Equal parts nat­u­ral his­tory, el­egy, and en­vi­ron­men­tal out­cry, pho­tog­ra­pher NP Jayan’s stud­ies of the Silent Val­ley in Ker­ala’s ter­rain are steeped in the panache of ver­dant green forests, the rev­e­la­tion of the viewfinder and his deep love for na­ture.

Jayan is among Ker­ala’s best award win­ning pho­tog­ra­phers. He has lived in the Silent Val­ley for long pe­ri­ods over six years and is akin to be­ing a home­less min­strel. His images of the Silent Val­ley have about them a savoured sim­plic­ity, an as­cetic pu­rity and open­ness.

The images os­cil­late be­tween the tenors of a ten­sile bird to the couched clouds that hug to­gether in the mon­soon shadow. Hold­ing his cam­era aloft a branch of a tree, Jayan wields it like a mace, and clicks while in the dis­tance a wa­ter­fall roars.

Liv­ing in a leech-in­fested rain­for­est can be try­ing—stock­ings and gum­boots pep­pered over with snuff (pow­dered to­bacco), the marshy lands of­fer many in­sights. In­ter­est­ingly, Jayan shoots by day­light, his Canon is al­ways used with­out a flash and you won­der how he cap­tured the frog with pray­ing hands. In an­other im­age, the speck­led frog is a perfect cam­ou­flage to the sur­round­ings, and you won­der how the artist in Jayan, per­son­i­fies Dionysian aban­don.

‘I shot that frog with a torch­light,’ he says, and you mull over his abil­ity to turn his sub­ject around.

Dif­fused sun­light floods the sky be­fore quickly fad­ing, poignantly bring­ing to mind the hours that Jayan spent pa­tiently wait­ing for the perfect mo­ment to cap­ture the land­scapes of the Silent Val­ley. These images have the abil­ity to stop you in your tracks and make you con­tem­plate In­dia’s last ev­er­green forests.

“Rain­forests are among the earth’s most valu­able and di­verse habi­tats. I learnt to live like the trib­als- eat the berries , the leaves and fruit they ate and learnt to lis­ten to si­lence, ”says Jayan.

These oth­er­worldly de­pic­tions of the epic na­ture of rain­forests shim­mer in opales­cent light as it is shrouded in the morn­ing mist of a moist sun­rise. The dark thun­der­clouds that hang over the sky glow from within like hot coals, il­lu­mi­nat­ing the stream, which looks like flow­ing mer­cury. Each im­age is the reck­on­ing of a story in the wilder­ness, one that cel­e­brates the thick rain­for­est mon­soon show­ers and keeps our eyes peeled on the nu­ances of noc­turnes.

While the moth nes­tles gen­tly in its nec­tarine mood, it is un­doubt­edly a serendip­i­tous mo­ment; Jayan’s metic­u­lous frames ren­der the rolling hills in the midground as the tor­rent of dark­ness beck­ons, pro­vid­ing the perfect foil for the tinted el­lipse of the rock.

Ob­vi­ously, Jayan is con­cerned with the rain­for­est’s tran­sient as­pects, and his quest for cap­tur­ing a por­trait of light and how it af­fects the re­la­tion­ship of one ob­ject to an­other is mes­meric. “I seek to evoke an emo­tional re­sponse for the viewer to ex­pe­ri­ence na­ture just the way I do,” he

says. But these works also serve as a tool for com­mu­ni­cat­ing Jayan’s pas­sion­ately held views on the con­ser­va­tion of the nat­u­ral land­scape — mir­ror­ing a sus­tain­able ecosys­tem in In­dia’s Silent Val­ley.

The Silent Val­ley is the last of the Ev­er­green Forests. De­for­esta­tion and de­vel­op­ment have taken its toll in ar­eas sur­round­ing the lush vale. The rain forests har­bour tremen­dous bio­di­ver­sity and the rivers are nur­tur­ing life­lines.” This makes perfect sense; be­cause in these ex­otic and es­o­teric images there is an aura of el­e­gance and the tongue in cheek com­ment of a wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher, who takes a few min­utes of reverie in the visual vo­cab­u­lary of lan­guage.

PHO­TOS: N P JAYAN

The lush green rain­forests of Ker­ala’s Silent Val­ley, smoth­ered by de­scend­ing clouds

A fam­ily of eight ele­phants make their way through the lush greens of the Val­ley

Drops of wa­ter calm the for­est soil

Rays of light gen­tly seep in as the sun pre­pares to set

Perfect tim­ing: An ant perched on a snake

The forests are awak­ened by the chirps of sev­eral feath­ered friends

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