It was sometime during the Upper Paleolithic age that one of our ancestors woke up on a dull morning, looked at a dreary cave wall and decided, ‘Dude, we sure need to jazz this up.’
After perhaps debating over what would work in terms of design and discarding options like the sculptural twig propped up on the wall by a neighbour, or the gory animal head that lay beside the show-off in the far corner, our friend decided to come up with something completely new — a depiction of a grazing bull. This turned out be the first piece of figurative art created 40,000 years ago in a cave in Indonesia, and the first step in humanity’s attempt at capturing a likeness of what we see around us.
Our endeavours at finding ways to create more accurate and speedier representations led to the invention of photography in the early 19th century, though this was still a tedious process. It is only in the 21st century that taking a photograph and sharing it became so instantaneous that our ears are now constantly ringing with the ubiquitous refrain of ‘Chal, let’s take a selfie yaar!’
In these last few weeks, though, I believe we have captured truly remarkable images of the world around us. It isn’t just the picture of the black hole, though we will come to that a bit later, but some equally mesmerising pictures from the campaign trail.
Hema Malini’s head peeking out of the sunroof of her car as a man holds a umbrella over her head. Another one of Hemaji with a bale of hay in one hand and a sickle in another that sparked frenzied social media discussions. The strawberry on this cheesecake was undoubtedly the picture of a pink sari-clad beaming Hema Malini driving a tractor.
This image captivated quite a few people including, I suppose, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, who was equally impressed by some good old Indian jugaad. He pointed out something I had missed, which also partly explained why Hemaji looked as fresh as a talcum powder advertisement. ‘What are those drums on the side?’ he pointed out. ‘Please don’t tell me those are mist generators for cool air? Wow, that’s one fancy tractor.’
When reporters asked Hemaji about these staged pictures, she nonchalantly stated, ‘Even if I was acting, so what? I enjoyed it and what’s wrong with that?’ I, for one, admire her utter lack of pretence, unlike her political contemporaries who are all putting in a performance themselves. That is, when they are not busy threatening to curse voters or abusing their rivals. I have to admit to a strong bias towards the Dream Girl though because I once fought with mother, screeching, ‘What is the use of having you as a mom? I wish Hema Malini was my mother, at least I would get a Kent RO free.’ Dhanno may be dead and gone but long live Basanti who continues to entertain us from theatre screens or tractor seats as the case may be.
Another remarkable picture last week was of Shashi Tharoor sitting on one end of a giant weighing scale, with a towering pile of bananas equivalent to his weight on the other side.
This did not end well, as the scale suddenly snapped and Tharoor was injured and needed multiple stitches. Learning of this unfortunate event, I was immediately full of gratitude for the humble weighing scale in my bathroom. I curse it almost every day, and though it has caused me pain inordinate number of times due to escalating numbers, the only thing it has ever injured has been my ego.
Luckily, the indomitable Tharoor made a speedy recovery and is back at work. A huge sigh of relief, as in my opinion, he is not just worth his weight in bananas but in 24 carat gold. In a world filled with millennials answering messages with ‘thanku’ and ‘yas’, we desperately need smart people who can pepper casual conversations with words like floccinaucinihilipilification.
Another iconic Tharoorism — ‘exasperating farrago of distortions’ — could also be applied to photography in the political world. Did you know that in the most popular portrait of President Abraham Lincoln, the head is all Abe but the body belongs to politician John Calhoun? Or that Stalin once added himself into a picture of Lenin to create an impression that he had visited him shortly before his death?
These alterations were time-consuming and required retouching with ink, paint or manipulation in the darkroom by piecing negatives together.
In the era of digital photography, all it takes is five minutes and voila, we have what is yet another startling photograph of our current times — a picture of Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone campaigning for a political party. It was only much later that it was discovered that these images of the couple were doctored and the ‘Vote for BJP’ slogan photoshopped onto their plain stoles.
In fact, I am rather surprised that one of the most momentous images in history — a singular line of progression starting from a bull on a cave wall to capturing an image more than 50 million light years away — the picture of the black hole has not been used as a campaign poster. I can almost imagine six-foot-high cut-outs of the black hole with its blazing orange ring at all BJP political gatherings with slogans like, ‘Forget east or west, even in space, saffron is the best.’
Err… if you do see this in the near future, you know who to blame!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words but you folks got a real bargain, because here you have four pictures in as many words.
Source : https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/mrsfunnybones/hema-to-tharoor-the-pictures-that-are-worth-a-thousand-words/