first_imgOne winter morning in 2013, when filmmaker Chitvan Gill, witnessed a grim patch of land turning overnight into a Kashmiri shantytown, she assumed the migration resulted from yet another turbulence in the valley.“I used to go to this area in East Delhi very often and suddenly out of the blue one morning, I come across a camp, just overnight. With the ongoing unrest in Kashmir in 2013, I thought it had got something to do with that. They must have fled their homes,” said Gill. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’But, as she delved deeper into their homes, stories unfurled breaking stereotypes associated with the lives of those hailing from Jammu and Kashmir.Gill has captured their stories and way of life that has endured unnoticed in hidden corners of the national capital, in her two-day photo exhibition, Winterlude: A season in Delhi held at Alliance Francaise de Delhi.“When I started enquiring, I realised there’s nothing to do with any trouble, there’s nothing to do with any terrorism,” she says. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with Netflix“This was a journey that thousands of impoverished peasants and farmers of Kashmir have been making to Delhi for more than four decades. Each year, as a mantle of snow descends over the idyllic Kashmir Valley, they flee here, to this flattened remain of a landfill, to escape the bitter chill,” says the photographer.The exhibition, which is a visual inquiry, into the lives of the unlikely nomads, captured and communicated their varied moods through a collection of 65 photographs. Almost like an oxymoron, gleaming faces of children with cracked cheeks, running noses and greased limbs, running amidst squalor, were recurrent in Gill’s exhibition.“The children were what was most remarkable about the camp. You forgot the filth and acid smoke and were drawn into their sheer joy, their laughter. Oblivious to the ugliness and degradation, it is a carnival, a time of unbridled exuberance and play for them,” said Gill. Gill says she has captured them in some of the most ordinary postures, but the freshness in expression, makes the pictures stand out.Other pictures document several aspects of their daily lives, from setting up their hutments, to their means of survival.“Stakes are driven into the ground, bamboo poles and splints form flimsy scaffoldings, blanketed over by bright sheets of tarpaulin,” she added.Hailing from an agricultural background, most of them, she says, “live off their earnings from their seven months in the valley, while a few engage in the uncanny business of ‘chanda’ collection.” The exhibition was an outcome of Gill’s photographing in East Delhi over a span of two winters, of 2013 and 2014.“Both the years, they came much later due to floods and elections,” she said.“While they were very happy being photographed, there was an evident ‘worriness’ about coming out into the open, for the obvious reason of being associated with violence,” she says vindicating why she has deliberately refrained from mentioning the exact location of the settlement.last_img