Three women, one in her late thirties and the other two in their forties, have come together to pursue their respective passions, making time from their careers and family. An Odissi dancer, a yoga practitioner, and a photographer, the three of them have documented their love for their respective art in a unique series of photographs.
As the cliche goes, it all happened over a cup of coffee.
Soumi Duttagupta (42), Tanya Agarwal (37), and Shailaja (44) live in Gurgaon and share a close friendship. Soumi's husband used to be Tanya's boss and that's how the two of them met. Tanya and Shailaja struck up a friendship through Facebook when the former approached the latter for a photo shoot.
Soumi has been interested in dance all her life, she says, but though she started Kathak at a very early age, she couldn't pursue it: "I went into music and I started getting trained in Hindustani vocals. Later on, when I went to Santiniketan for my higher education, I used to perform in dance programs in the festivals." Though not formally trained, she had the opportunity to perform in various festivals like Vasantosab in Santiniketan which kept her in touch with dance during her college days.
However, after she got into a full-time job and had children, she soon found that she had no time at all to indulge her passion. Dance was long forgotten.
"Many years later, when I had taken up a flexible working module for my kids, I thought of giving some time to myself. And then dance happened. Once I stepped in, I loved the space, the challenges, the pleasure of imbibing the style and grace of the form. And the journey has been immensely challenging," she smiles.
Calling dance a "spiritually transforming" experience, Soumi learnt Odissi (a style she chose because of its grace and lilt) from Sulakshna Sen, Aparna Gandhi and is currently a student of Guru Sharon Lowen, an internationally aclaimed dancer. Soumi started learning the art form when she was in her mid-thirties, wanting to explore Tagore's creation through this form.
For Tanya, fitness was always a priority but she didn't think of taking it to a larger community till the birth of her second child.
"My second child's health issues drove me up the wall. I was turning into a different person whom I personally did not like. I knew I couldn’t work full time anymore. And I didn’t want to either. It was time to make a pact with myself – let go, get depressed, cut off or gather myself, focus on my strengths, do what I am good at and still be around for my kids 24/7," she says.
That's how Tanya set up her fitness blog, combining her twin loves of writing and working out.
Considering Shailaja visualised frames in every detail of life, it wasn't surprising that she turned to photography. "While walking down the street, at home, while reading...I could see images and always wanted to capture those," she recalls. Shailaja is also a writer. Though she herself is absent from the pictures in this series, her creativity is evident in the frames that she has captured.
All three of them have supportive families who gave them the time and space to pursue their passions.
The idea for the photo series happened over a cup of coffee when the three friends met and caught up with their lives.
"We wanted to do it artfully through which our kinesthetic and aesthetic sensibilities could find a vent," says Tanya.
Shot in Hauz Khas, the pictures weren't only about the three of them though.
"The sole idea was to encourage more and more number of women to stop giving up with age. They need to live and cherish each moment, each stage of life. We wanted to tell them to live life when they were still alive," says Shailaja.
As Soumi calls it, this is their "second innings" and they're glad they have initiated it.