That is how Naveen, a final year CBZ student lives his life. I spoke with him for nearly twenty minutes, and it has taken me a little more than a week to put our conversation into words, and in English, no less. I have tried and maintained the feel of it, I hope, but sadly, some of it is lost in the translation. I hope that one of these days in the future, this boy becomes famous and all those of you reading this today will look for him and speak to him for hours and absorb all his life and energy so that you can lead a much happier, much radiant life with a positive outlook on the world.
Because that’s exactly how I felt after I spoke to him.
Naveen is multi-talented, not limiting himself to just one form of art but exploring all that can be explored. His favourite is cinema; he says it’s because he can combine writing, visual arts, music, dance and photography together and create something that is worth watching. He is not just a very talented photographer, who knows how and when to capture life, he is also a brilliant writer and a theatre artist. He is very keen on learning music as well. He writes in Kannada, and he inspires me to write in Kannada.
For today, I will be focusing on his photography skills, and you will know why.
He loves stories. He believes that everybody has a story and there are no new stories; just untold stories.
Naveen is from a small town named Hosabale in Shimoga, right in the middle of the state. He grew up in a house where education was stressed upon, and other forms of art were not encouraged. His interest in photography began way back, even before he went to school.
During weddings, when everyone went up to the stage for pictures to be taken, I always stood next to the photographer. There weren’t any digital cameras back then, it was with films, and one roll could take 32 photos. They open a small box, take pictures and after one month, you’ll get an album full of pictures. How was it possible? I was very curious. It looked like a magic box to me. We couldn’t afford a camera back then at home, and it went on like that for years. Then in high school, a few of them had cameras. I made friends with such people (sometimes because they had a camera). In PU, I turned my attention towards studying because I had the need to and I showed little interest in other activities. There used to be a library opposite my college. I was there all the time, reading a lot of books. And at a point, the teachers read up more and came to class for my sake.
When I joined Joseph’s for degree, I saw many people holding a camera and it didn’t seem like a marvelous instrument anymore. And most of them just roam around, clicking random pictures and later editing it or something. I always thought that if I had a camera like that, there are so many good pictures I can take! I decided in these three years, I have to learn photography and then only leave, because I don’t know if I can learn after degree, because I have no idea if I will study further or work.”
On getting his first camera:
Now I needed to buy a camera, but where I will I get the money from? My parents said it was impossible for them to buy a good camera. On a minimum basis, it will cost me about 30 to 40 thousand rupees. Impossible.
I believe in my subconscious. You will see what you want to see, you will hear what you want to hear, but you will never do what you want to do. That’s how our mind works.
When I was at the peak of my wanting to buy a camera, a friend of mine had just bought a 5D camera…
Dear people, a 5D camera easily costs about at least 2 lakh rupees, which is THE best camera available in market at the moment and is really too much for a commoner to buy, and unless you shoot a movie like Lucia I suggest you to think over it carefully.
…I didn’t know the parameters of the camera, like shutter speed and all those aspects, which he taught me. He said he an old camera. I asked him, “Guru*, will you give it to me?” It was about 5-6 years old, and is in the bottom of the DSLRs at present, but is very good for a point and shoot. He said, “Okay, for about 20 thousand rupees,” was his offer. We were good friends, so I told him, “Guru, please, lower the price for me, no?” He agreed to give it to me for fifteen thousand rupees.
As students, it is highly unlikely that any of us would have 15,000 rupees lying around. So what did he do for the money?
That day, I remember very well, I had 120-odd rupees in my account. I had no money. I didn’t know what to do. That time, I was waiting for a scholarship, of about 5000 rupees. I didn’t tell my family about it; I kept it with me; but then, I still needed 10,000 rupees.
In college, once they’d given free coffee for promotion purpose. I spoke to the people working there…
He is extremely friendly and speaks to everyone. Apart from the times he was depressed, he’s never once not spoken to his neighbor on the bus, he told me.
…I became good friends with one guy working and he explained me his job. The company apparently took students for jobs like these, and they pay about 500 rupees per day. Work is usually on the weekends. I approached them, and worked for them for a while. I went on the weekends. The job was simple. They usually assigned me to some mall, and when the company wants to launch a new product, they keep stalls in such malls, with an electric water heater, milk and the instant coffee and take the public’s feedback.
With that, I’ve also done work with the catering people at weddings. It gave me a lot of happiness, both these jobs. The catering job is usually done by the Brahmins (they are a community of people) and if you go there was work and you’re not a Brahmin, they give you a uniform: panche, shalya and Janwara. (Panche is a dhoti tied to the lower part of the body and shalya is a similar piece of cloth used to cover the upper body. Janwara is a length of cotton thread worn to indicate that you are a Brahmin; all wore by men) They used to give about 500 rupees. More than the money, the experience was wonderful. I got to see a variety of people. I got good stories also.
I’d already loaned some money from a friend, enough to buy that camera. I did all that work and returned him the money. And finally, I have a camera in my hand which is mine.
For learning, this camera was enough.
His first passion is and will always be writing. If you can read Kannada, I suggest you click here to read all his brilliant works. I promise you, it will not disappoint. He also plans on publishing a book in the near future, which is a collection of short stories, in Kannada. I know I will be the first in line to get it signed by him!
He has also directed a short film, my name “Metaphor”, which is sort of a protest against having the Steel Flyover in Bangaluru. I hope you guys can understand Kannada, because here is the link to the short film.
And until his 10th standard, he hadn’t watched movies at all. But after coming to Joseph’s, he got exposed to international cinema and watched at least one movie everyday. He’s also a regular visitor to the BIFFes, the Bengaluru International Film Festival.
And one day in the future, he will be a panelist there, talking about his movie. I hope to be there, cheering him on and watching his fans pool around him and ask him millions of questions which I know he will be more than happy to answer. And I, along with Yeshas, will take an appointment to take an interview of him.
*Guru means something like, Dude, in Kannada local language.