Sunday, August 30, 2009

Eye for an Eye

Posted: Aug 30, 2009
Irena Akbar

When you walk up the stairs to the clinic of eye surgeon Dr Navin Sakhuja in Delhi’s Golf Links it is impossible to ignore framed pictures of leopards and images of waves crashing off the coast in South Africa. You would even spot a tomb in the middle of Lodhi Gardens. And when you finally enter his consultation room, there is a wide-angle shot of the Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh adorning the wall.

“Ophthalmology is my first passion and shall always be.

Photography is something I do when I have time,” smiles the doctor. He has been shooting since 1989 and has over 10,000 images. Sakhuja has already held two exhibitions, with the third one on till Tuesday at the Gallerie Romain Rolland at Alliance Francaise. He took part in a group show called “Colours of Life” for which he shot a dozen images of six varieties of butterflies in the lawn of his home.

His current show, “In Search of a Greater God”, had him travel to Angkor Wat and Siem Reap in Cambodia and Bagan in Myanmar for a week, where from 4 am to 8 pm he would capture ruins of temples. In one striking image on display, a colossal, withered tree trunk is almost gripping the Ta Prom temple. “It’s a paradox. The tree is crushing the temple with its weight and yet, without its support, the old temple would crumble,” says Sakhuja, who explains the history behind the picture with the zeal of an archaeologist.

A huge 5 ft by 4 ft frame of the silhouette of a stupa and orange-blue hues of dawn in the background is another interesting picture. “It is the Dhammanayangi temple that King Nartahu built to get over the guilt of murdering his father. He visited the temple every week and if he found an error, he would get the labourers murdered,” explains Sakhuja, about the gruesome history of Bagan and Angkor Wat.

As patients begin tricking in at his clinic, Sakhuja wants to wrap up talking about his pictures. “Were it not for ophthalmology, I would probably not comprehend the importance of colour perception, light and image. It’s when I look at people with vision problems that my commitment to capturing this beautiful world on camera becomes stronger,” he says.

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