Magic on the Forest Floor and Leaf Shadows: Niranjan Panjwani
The spectrum of human emotions births arts of different forms. And the endlessness of this process, this emergence, can sometimes be quite startling. While art is capable of finding a fluid-like, sinuous beginning from even adversity, grief and struggle, it is no less beautiful when it is created by passion, joy and all things bright…
That’s how Niranjan Panjwani’s interest in wildlife led him to be a chronicler of jungle tales in pixels. So he started to discover how magic is spooled out of the forest depths, and he remembers one such journey of his into the emerald depths of Kabini.
Mr Panjwani’s ideas on travel and photography are not only eloquent and clear, but also poetic. He explains, “Photography is another way of portraying what I see through my eyes, a way of carefully preserving a memory. It’s a tangible evidence of what I see, which stays longer than the transient moment captured in the frame.”
Mr. Panjwani believes that by combining passion and technical knowledge, a photographer can get outstanding results. He exclaims that he loves how photographs refresh our memory and send us back to ‘being in the moment’ again.
In our pursuit of what we think are great things, we often tend to forget the simple pleasures of life, even when we are in places that allow us such vast mercies and joys. Mr. Panjwani finds one such blissful respite when he walks in a forest. He speaks with an earnest voice: “I feel blessed when my senses are at their active best in a forest: the scent, the colours and the striking beauty all around, the way my feet kiss the forest floor whenever I choose to walk barefoot.”
Mr Panjwani’s love for mammals is only growing stronger with each passing day. He fondly remembers a particular experience of watching an elephant mollycoddling its babies. He tells us how enriching an experience it was to first spend time with them and then to photograph them. “Being able to hug an elephant’s trunk is no less spiritual than a prayer”, says he, “and they still forgive us for all such things we do.”
While savouring every moment of being in the jungle, he realised that to make evocative photographs of the forest and wildlife, he needed a thorough understanding of the technical details underlying the art. After a couple of trips to other wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, when he realised that he didn’t have help on the field, he started looking out for it, and that’s how he first came to know of Toehold.
Says Mr. Panjwani: “I had the passion for capturing beautiful moments, but what I needed was to gain knowledge that needs to accompany passion for better results of art. And there couldn’t have been a better way for me to learn than the Toehold Skippers instructing their clients on the field, in the very moment.
On his recent Photo Tour with Toehold to Kaziranga, he cherished watching a tiger so much that he chuckles remarking how he remained unruffled, as if humans didn’t even exist in his realm!
Of the many reasons he loves wildlife, one is something you don’t often get to hear. Here’s a rare idea about watching the wildlife in jungles, in Mr Panjwani’s words: “The idea of a zoo is rather depressing. Admiring the caged animals is not something I would ever do. But even in their captivity, animals are capable of stirring so much curiosity and joy in us. But, when we humans go into the depths of a forest on a vehicle safari, I feel like we are caged in a jeep. And we get to see the wild animals in their natural habitat. But unlike the caged animals in the zoo, we are simply incapable of stirring any sort of curiosity in the animals in the jungle!”
Away from the cacophony of the city, Mr Panjwani enjoys the timelessness of all the beautiful moments that forests offer. “Even if it’s as simple an act as leaning on a tree and being quiet, everything has its own delicacy”, asserts Mr Panjwani.
Yes, we say. It is perhaps these moments that can fold their wings and drift into a drowse in our minds.