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NOV 13, 1998

Armed with her Canon EOS 50, Deepti Naval spent five rolls of film, capturing the breathtaking beauty of the Ladakh landscape. Showcasing her talent in photography for the first time, Naval is holding an exhibition title In Serch of Another Sky, in New Delhi.

Naval has dabbled in several things apart from acting, like poetry and painting. Is photography a first for her? “No, I’ve always had a camera in my hand… Wherever I went I would keep clicking – whether it was in Kulu or the Kangra valley in Himachal,” she says. In fact, Naval also took photography lessons during her student days in New York. “I went to Ladakh this February and for the first time I made a careful effort to click good photographs,” she says. The photographs are resplendent in their beauty and each one speaks for itself. Light and shade play against each other in several pictures and the stark vividness of the landscape is the hallmark of some others. “Nothing has been preconceived for the exhibition. I was just walking around with a camera and what I captured was what I found interesting or just beautiful,” she says.

The people of the region have added a startling dimension to some pictures. Two women in black skirts are juxtaposed against a muted grey background or the characteristic maroon robes of monks against a brown and barren mountainslope. The photographs have a story – for instance, when Naval was taking pictures of an interesting gate, she saw a man carrying child on his back. She waited till they came to the foreground of her frame and then clicked. “None of the people have been asked to pose for the pictures. They were passersby and the two women (in black skirts) are looking shy, because they became self conscious as they realized I was clicking them.” There are also some pictures taken in interiors. There are not as sharp or clear as the ones taken outside, but something as quaint as an aangan or the detail of a monastery bell has been captured on film for posterity. Another interesting aspect was that she did not take 10-20 shots of the same image like a professional shutterbug would. “Each picture has been only taken in a single frame,” she says.

The show in its entirety is a personal journey for Naval. As the title suggests, it is a search for her own personal space, a search to find herself. However, acting, painting and writing poetry are also a part of her multi-faceted self. With so many creative juices flowing, does she keep a conscious effort to keep a regular tag on them? “I do like writing and try to write every day and I’ve tried to keep the easel and paint in front of me, in the hope that something will come out!” she laughs and adds, “But it doesn’t always work.” Her last exhibition was of her self-portraits and even though she doesn’t know when or what she will paint next, she promises to bring the show to the city.

And of course, she’s still very open to acting offers. Recalling her favourite roles in films like Ek Bhar Phir, Katha, Chashme Baddoor, Panchvati and Main Zida Hoon, she says, “I'll wait for something with substance,” she says. The most recent appearance she made was a role in a children’s film. Naval is also full praise for the hybrid variety of films that are being made which appeal to the masses and classes alike. “I just watch Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and I loved Kajol’s acting in the movie. I think she was absolutely brilliant,” she says.

So when do Delhi-ites get to see her next? “I love the winters here so I’ll be around for the film festival in January next year.” As of now, her photography show travels to Mumbai, next, for another round of applause.