Photographers Who Find Magic In The Mundane: Chandan Khanna | Verve Magazine
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August 23, 2017

Photographers Who Find Magic In The Mundane: Chandan Khanna

Text by Sadaf Shaikh. Photography by Chandan Khanna

“I plan on raising awareness about rape in Delhi and its surrounding states in a manner that will produce substantial results”

Being born in the state of Uttar Pradesh meant that Chandan Khanna grew up on a steady diet of local stories about rape, murder, robberies and kidnappings. He dove into photojournalism in 2013 soon after the Nirbhaya rape case that made global headlines. With narratives focused on gender equality, the key subjects of Khanna’s photography are humans because he is endlessly fascinated by how the hopes and despairs of mankind are unrelentingly constant. He aspires to perfect the art of clicking people going about their day with precision.

What attracts you to a subject?
“I like to focus on people who stand out from the crowd, either with their smile, sorrow or individualistic personality. I wish to bring to light the strata of society that is often disregarded by other people in the hope that someday, the authorities will start working for their betterment through social and economic reforms.”

Describe your experience shooting with the subject.
“I find it highly intriguing how people can be exceedingly skilled at their job, without others even noticing it. For instance, in Old Delhi, there are thousands of watchmakers and repairers who often operate out of a small stall or even set up shop on the roadside. There is still a large portion of our society that cannot afford to buy a new watch, a new pair of shoes, a sturdy coat – even an umbrella when they break their old one. Instead, they head to a repairman and get it fixed for a much lower price. This is how our society has been operating since the start of time and I find it immensely charming to capture.”

An episode that has left a lasting impact on you.
“The Nirbhaya rape case in 2012 left me quite shattered. Women have been my biggest heroes for as long as I can remember and I’ve always been surrounded by an empowered bunch. Hence, the thought process that compels someone to commit rape is at once a mystery to me and the worst abomination there is. It is not something impulsive, perpetrated in the heat of the moment, but a deep-rooted bias against women owing to a patriarchal mindset. In my quest to understand this mindset, I began working on the subject of rape in Delhi and its surrounding states and seek to carry this story forward in a manner that will produce substantial results.”

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