Social Documentary Photographer Sujata Khanna is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From project “Unsung Lives“. To see Sujata’s portfolio of projects click on any image.
The traditional brass bands or “bandwallahs” are essential to an Indian family’s most auspicious ceremony – the wedding Baraat. They take the lead and for a few hours, the wealthy of society dance to their tunes, but away from the bright lights of the wedding procession is a very different life for these musicians.
I’ve been to many weddings and always wondered about the lives of these men. Over months I worked to gain their trust and was able to photograph them as they shed their identities and transformed, with each change of uniform, into and acceptable avatar for their affluent patrons’ realm. For a few hours, during the wedding celebrations, the bandwallahs leave behind their socio-economic background and fulfill their desire to be accepted by society.
This series of photographs offers a close up into the class-riven society we live in – the tension between musicians from some of the most poverty stricken states in India, yearning for appreciation; and a society that treats their talent as a mere commodity.
In Unsung Lives is a hope that these images offer some visibility to the bandwallahs and their life of contradictions.
Unsung Lives was initiated under the aegis of Neel Dongre Awards / Grants for Excellence in Photography by India Photo Archive Foundation.
By Sujata Khanna