Chai : The Pilot Issue
When Kishor Krishnamoorthi conceptualized Concorde, he was setting out to create India’s first indie photo zine. He was rapt by the idea of bringing together photo stories in print, that elevates the intimacy of viewing the images and promises to stay with the reader long after they’ve flipped to the last page. Through Concorde, he wanted to take a closer look at the stories and the places that epitomize the essence of life in India.
Chai, the first issue of Concorde reached deep into the gut of Hyderabad and unfurled the story of the city’s obsession and love for a cup of sweet, milky tea. Melting into the corners of cafes peppered across the city, Concorde sat quietly, capturing fleeting moments of the city’s chai culture. A police officer taking a break with his cuppa, a hawker caught mid- work with his flasks and paper cups, a Starbucks barista whipping up a chai latte – everyone had a story to tell. Soon enough, the pilot issue came alive, picking apart Hyderabad’s relationship with its favorite beverage, one image at a time. We catch up with Kishor to take a look at Chai, and how it all came together.
What inspired Concorde? Was it that one conversation with Aditya, or did you, somewhere deep down, always know you wanted to create a photo zine?
Concorde was inspired in part by a bookmaking workshop that I had attended back in June 2014. It was held in Mussoorie and we had two instructors from Spain, Cristina de Middel & Ricardo Cases. At the workshop, we had the opportunity to make our own books with regular paper and materials that were available there but it prompted me to think about how I could further explore this medium. Later that year, I visited England and chanced upon the publisher ‘Cafe Royal Books’. They publish a Zine every week! I picked up a few issues and loved the concept of bringing photo stories in the print medium. After I came back to India, I met with Aditya and we started working on Concorde.
Through Concorde, what shades of India are you trying to capture?
I want to show people a side of the country that they normally would not notice. There is art in simple things around us, be it a cup of tea or a cyclist on the road. The opportunities in India are endless and it is important that we document it, not only for ourselves but for future generations to come. Through Concorde, the idea is to let the viewer appreciate the little things in life.
Hyderabad is ubiquitous with chai and it seemed like an easy starting point for us. We had a lot of places we could explore in Hyderabad and we knew that everyone could easily relate to at least one of these spaces.
How did you go about capturing the fleeting moments?
One modus operandi was to sit in a cafe that looked interesting, have lots of chai, munch on samosas and slowly blend in so that we wouldn’t stand out or attract attention. Then we could bring out the dSLRs and start clicking the people who sat next to us and they would not even pay any attention to us. This allowed us to capture some real moments.
Take us through the journey of creating the pilot issue.
When we decided to document Hyderabad’s love for tea, we started by asking one question: where can you get tea in the city? The number of options available to the citizens to take a sip of their favorite beverage at any time of the day speaks volumes of our appetite. During my journey for this project I discovered interesting contrasts within my city and I felt it would be thought provoking to show chai as a metaphor for the city’s residents. From those who take their chai in humble paper cups at the street corner to those who prefer to sip tea in the regal ceramic mugs at an air conditioned cafe.
Since I was also making the layout of the Zine, I was constantly on the hunt for images that worked together, either in the visual sense or from a storytelling perspective. The documentation process involved a good amount of research, a lot of walking around, sniffing out interesting spots and chatting with chai wallahs. Looking at the issue now, I still think we have only covered a small part of the city’s vast chai culture.
If you’re yet to pick up your copy of Chai, find it here http://bit.ly/2aMtj6V
Only a few copies left!