Everybody loves a good story, don’t they? And in this superficial world where connections on social media are far more important than real connection, good stories are crucial for keeping us grounded. Faces of Bengaluru (FoB), is a photo blog that focuses on that aspect. “There are a number of things people see and appreciate each day. But the hard workers behind the scene get lost and forgotten. We (through this platform) are trying to show those faces and narrate their stories because we believe that every person has their own biopic,” enthuses Sai Prathima, writer and co-founder of FoB.
The idea started with an urge, really. The year was 2016, and Vikas Badiger (founder, photographer) was busy slogging for his MBA degree in Italy. And we all know that heavy lectures and hectic schedules are when ideas are born! Badiger had an itch of doing something, something in which he could combine his love for photography and stories—in this case, it was uncovering stories of people who have made this world a better place to live in. And Faces of Bengaluru was born. The idea spawned in Italy and found a voice in India.
After Badiger returned to Bangalore, he voiced the idea to his childhood friend Sai Prathima and she agreed to join forces. After that, there was no looking back. Badiger handles photography duties while Prathima oversees the editorial, and together they want to make this world a much better place, with interesting stories that are yet to be uncovered. Since the inception of the photo blog in October, last year, they have published twelve stories—posting once a week or a fortnight. And this is just the beginning.
We catch up with Prathima and Badiger, who tell us more about the venture, how it’s different than similar projects out there, how they select people for the blog, and more.
How and when did Faces of Bengaluru begin? The idea behind the project? Could you give us a little backstory, please?
Badiger: FoB happened while drawing inspiration from people who are trying to make this world a better place to live in—people who are doing it in their own way. I had this thought when I was in Italy (pursuing his MBA from Universita di Pisa) that I have to bring out such people through my photography. Once I came back to India, I spoke to Prathima about this over lunch sometime in September 2016. She gave this project a nod, and since the content was a crucial part of FoB, she was ready to don the writer/editor’s hat. It materialised once we got hold of a contact in Vidyarthi Bhavan. And once people appreciated our first interview, there was no looking back.
Prathima: There are a number of things people see and appreciate each day. But the hard workers behind the scenes gets hidden. We are trying to show you those faces and narrate to you their stories. We believe every person has their own biopic.
There are similar projects like the Humans of Bombay or the Humans of Bangalore? So, what was the need to start something people are already familiar with? Further, how different is Faces of Bengaluru from all of them?
Badiger: FoB tries to identify somebody who has made this world a better place to live in, maybe with their achievement, their profession, or with their service. There are a number of amazing stories that go untold between of the chaos of the city. This is our effort to thank and salute all those people who are quietly making a difference. Today too, there are a lot of people who do things, not for the attention. They do it because (for them) that’s the right thing to do. So, if we bring their stories to light, what they started, might turn into an inspiration for others.
There are literally thousands of faces in Bangalore, how do you decide on the fact that that person is the one for the project? Can you walk us through the selection process, and the backstory, of the individual, please?
Prathima: We first try to find out how much of an impact that person has made in the world or the city. Once we think that person is credible, we try and get in touch with him/her. Most of the times the people whom we feature agree to give us time for the interview. We then select a place in an around the city for the interview, and that’s how the story is crafted.
How many people have you captured so far?
Badiger: We have captured 12 faces so far. We are in talks of taking three more this month.
From all of the profiles, you have shot till date, which story is the closest to your heart and why?
Prathima: The one closest to my heart was the interview with Shyamsundar Sir. He was my teacher back in school. He is one amazing down-to-earth person whose story would have never come out if not for our blog. He was beyond happy to tell us his stories and we were moved. It will stay with us for a really long time.
Badiger: I felt Giri Pickbrain was the best. He is a man with a vision. He wants every Indian to become a better conversationalist. That includes the knowledge about it and the confidence to talk. If I can recall, after Derek O’Brien, it’s Pickbrain who has been making a difference through quizzing since many years.
The challenges so far?
Prathima: Scheduling the interview and then picking the right time to conduct one has been the biggest challenge so far. (laughs)
What have you learnt through this project? The takeaway?
Badiger: People maketh the city. Being down to earth is all that’s needed and it will take your places. There are amazing people all over; you just need the right eye to find them.
Have you been critiqued on this project? What are the views of people in Bangalore like?
Prathima: The people of Bangalore have big hearts. We have not received any criticism, but only love and acceptance, always. But we would love some critique, it will help us grow. (smiles)
Plans for the future?
Badiger: We want to increase the frequency of our interviews. We are planning to make videos too, instead of just content. And, of course, to inspire people to become better human beings.
Do you have a story that is waiting to be heard? Get in touch with them.
Read all of the twelve stories on their Facebook page here.