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Parth Sanyal
"Just to Get a Glimpse"

Parth Sanyal©️ Parth Sanyal/Samajwadi Party 

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Curator: Sandeep Biswas

How does one describe India if asked, and how does one knit that one answer in the simplest possible way? Quite a few things about our country cannot be explained but only experienced and that experience is strikingly visual.

This magnificent visual and biographic anecdotes by a seasoned and ex Reuters photojournalist Parth Sanyal “ JUST TO GET A GLIMPSE” revolves around one of India’s youngest political leaders and a youth icon Akhilesh Yadav. Once the previously elected chief minister of India’s most politically active state of Uttar Pradesh ( UP ) in the north of India, his popularity in the state remains immense for his highly optimistic fan following.

The state of UP is presently ruled by the BJP led Government, while Akhilesh Yadav continues to remain among the strongest opposition and contestants under the banner Samajwadi Party. The word Samajwadi would translate into English as Socialist.

Parth Sanyal who is presently the personal photographer of the party leader and president, has travelled extensively through the state accompanying him for the last 5 years.

This body of work flawlessly captures the astoundingly true love of the common man in the rural and urban UP towards their young and endearing Leader. The frenzy to get the slightest glimpse to any extent possible of the persona who they idolize and look up to with absolute hope towards their possible and tangible future.

India, which is the second most populated country of over 1.3 billion, is also extremely high on the density of people in certain states including UP. This series of images depicts that unsettling narratives with 25 powerful images of uncontrollable large crowds in all possible expected and unexpected spaces. The images demand ones attention to experience and perceive this madness behind the people’s surreal love towards their dynamic leader through Parth’s spirited photographic journey as a part of SP president Akhilesh Yadav’s visual biographer.

© Sandeep Biswas

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Artist Statement

India is a land of extraordinary diversity. Diversity of language, identity, food and colour, as also of ideology.

The country’s teeming 1.3 billion population, replete with diversity, is always on the lookout for an icon to look up and follow –  be it amongst their countless deities or among the uncountable/innumerable political leaders that the country has. An icon who would reflect their own thoughts, beliefs and ideology - one whom they can follow.

According to the Election Commission of India, there are a mind-boggling 2598 registered political parties in the country, out of which 8 are national parties, 52 state parties and 2538 unrecognised parties. One can then well imagine the humongous number of politicians that the country has.

However, not all politicians have a mass following that brinks on frenzy. Very few leaders elicit the hysteria that is usually seen for celebrities.

Amongst those few leaders, one is Akhilesh Yadav – the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in the country and the National President of the Samajwadi Party (Socialist Party). The past five years has provided me an opportunity to observe him closely as also those who come to hear and watch him.

In a series of shots, I try to capture the sheer expressions of people who come ‘just to get a glimpse’ of the popular leader during his rallies and road trips. The hurriedness, hope, joy and tears --- all are captured in people scaling walls, climbing on rooftops and treetops, standing on chairs and ledges, peeping from under the screen. Thrilled to see and hear their leader at such close quarters, they see him as a harbinger of opportunities and prosperity. In him they see the fruition of their hopes and aspirations.

When this sea of charged people get an actual glimpse of their leader, it is pure magic.

It’s the people who make leaders out of common men and leaders arise from the masses. The frenzied behaviour of the crowd gives momentum to all mass movements. It is this enthusiasm and hunger for change of the people that matters heavily in giving a larger-than-life stature to a political leader and help in keeping the democracy vibrant.

The series is dedicated to all these people who constitute the masses, who make heroes out of men. The masses who would do all “just to get a glimpse.

The series is an ongoing project and I intend to shoot this for some years more.

© Parth Sanyal/Samajwadi Party

About Parth Sanyal

Parth Sanyal, a 49-year-old Indian photojournalist Parth Sanyal has extensively covered South Asia over the last 28 years for various Indian newspapers and global wire services. Parth has worked for The Independent in Mumbai, The Hindu group of publications and Reuters out of Kolkata.

His work has appeared in most of the leading newspapers and magazines across the world, including, International Herald Tribune, Washington Post, New York Times, The Guardian, Time Magazine, Newsweek, Boston Globe, National Geography online, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), various NGOs, Helsingin Sanomat, Outlook Traveller, Sportzpics etc.
Parth has also been an educator and mentor at Udaan School of Photography.  

Presently, he is working for Samajwadi Party as the personal photographer of Mr. Akhilesh Yadav, former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and the National President of Samajwadi Party. He can be traced in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. 

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