Set in Pravadh, a fictional hamlet in central India, the story centres around its protagonist Avani, "the most beautiful and educated girl" in the village.

Avani A captivating photo story of love power and relationships rooted in social issues
Features Saturday, February 13, 2016 - 12:40

For over a month now, photographer Arjun Kamath has been captivating audiences and leaving them wanting for more of his photo-story "Avani" on Facebook.

Set in Pravadh, a fictional hamlet in central India, the story centres around its protagonist Avani, "the most beautiful and educated girl in Pravadh". 

Hailing from a humble background, Avani is against the idea of marriage and wants to open a school in her village, but finally gives in to her parents’ wishes and gets married to Aadisesha, the most eligible bachelor in Pravadh who also belongs to a wealthy and powerful family. What unfolds next is an engrossing tale of love, relationships, struggle and power equations told through stunning photographs.

"While the story is fictional, the issues portrayed in it are grounded in reality," says Arjun, who hails from Bengaluru, and is currently studying film and TV production in Los Angeles. 

"We come across several stories in papers and TV channels every day, but there are hardly any positive stories. As an artist, you can either sit back and relax or do something about it," he says. 

“It however does not mean I am trying to preach, or tell others what they should be doing. It is just a way to show my concern,” he quickly adds.

Avani is a photo-story about the several social evils that continue to haunt us even in this day an age- dowry, gender discrimination and the want for male children to name a few. 

"Art is a very interesting medium," Arjun says. "However, people generally do not like to engage in social issues because they find it depressing. So when you mix art with social causes, you not only make it interesting, you also convey the message." 

Arjun finished the shoot for "Avani" in two days earlier this year when he had come to Bengaluru on a break. 

"I chose the concept of a photo story because production is not complicated like that in film production, the latter having a longer process with lots of elements involved in it."

Each day, Arjun releases one picture on his Facebook page along with part of the story, all written by him. 

However, this is not the first photo-story that Arjun has created. Last year, he made "Coming Out", a photo-story about homosexuality. 

"US is considered liberal and yet it is still difficult finding acceptance there. In India, forget about a girl loving a girl, because a girl loving a boy is also a problem," he says. 

A believer in causes, Arjun feels that while people do say things are changing for the better, the process is a slow one.

“What is changing? My mom is a gynecologist and I know from her how some people still prefer to have sons over daughters. I used to do wedding photography earlier and have seen how some openly display dowry. My stories are something to make people think about,” he explains.

When will the story of Avani come to an end? "In about a week's time," Arjun says. 

You can go through the photo story here

All photographs have been used here with the permission of Arjun Kamath.

 

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