“In 2001 my father bought me a camera," says Sohrab Hura, the second Indian after Raghu Rai to have been made a nominee member of Magnum Photos, the international photographic cooperative co-founded by photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1947.

“I went to Ladakh, took pretty postcard photographs, and the activity made me feel good," adds the 32-year-old.

At the time, Hura’s mother was unwell, and the sudden thrill he found in photography made him feel happy after a long while. “Soon I realized I needed it more and more, like a drug," he says. “I had become dependent on photography, it had become a safe place for me to be in."

From 2005-14, Hura documented his mother’s illness in two phases—first, the dark days when she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia; then years later, as she started recovering gradually. The first body of work was titled, with bleak irony, Sweet Life, and the latter, with suitable optimism, Look, It’s Getting Sunny Outside!!!. Since last year, Hura has been documenting the intense Indian summer in a small village in Madhya Pradesh that, he has said elsewhere, reminds him of Macondo, the setting for Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece, One Hundred Years Of Solitude.

The Latin American writer enters our conversation too, though in another context.

How does your work—poetic, lyrical, and achingly beautiful—fit into the Magnum aesthetics, which is typically clinical, realist, focusing on reportage from across the world? I ask Hura. “The language of photojournalism has changed, it’s constantly evolving," he says. “García Márquez, who is one of my favourite authors, would write books as well as newspaper columns. I, too, see no reason to put myself into one slot."

The danger of putting Hura’s work into a pigeonhole does not seem imminent. For a photographer who claims to “love mistakes" and insists on the importance of feeling “unsure, fragile, vulnerable" about his work, Hura is an unusual candidate for Magnum. By mistakes, he means light leaks, negative scratches, and other such accidents that lead to fascinating results—such as a photograph of a dog crossing two frames, made out of two negatives.

“I try to vary the tone, pace and narrative arc of my work like a piece of music that changes its pitch through stages," Hura says. “I allow damages to organically become part of my work. For a control freak, I tend to work myself into a position where I no longer have any control."

Although he does not like to fuss over cameras or the medium (analogue versus digital), Hura says he becomes “a very different entity" with “a different camera" in his hand. “I was once given a Pentax 67 to shoot a particular assignment and being the humongous camera it is, it made me a slow photographer," he says. “That is a good thing," he hastens to add.

Working with film also ensures that he does not turn robotic. “It is like driving a car with manual gear transmission," Hura says. “You feel the reality of the act with a different intensity." But ultimately, it is the end result, and not the process, that matters, he says—and that is what he is most interested in.

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