Exhibition of dance photos by Dr. Susil Pani 

March 23, 2009 
 
Dr. Susil Pani is an eye doctor from the state of Orissa, now settled in Pondicherry. He hails from an illustrious family, his father being late Dr. Raghunath Pani who was an educationist, writer, dramatist, composer, and musician both Carnatic Veena and Hindustani vocal singer. Dr. Susil Pani has been interested in photography from his college days and has been taking pictures on a variety of subjects. His interests include: Indian classical dance forms, temple cars, temples, stage photography, nature, etc. He has already presented solo photo exhibits of Indian classical and folk dances, spiritual significance of flowers, chariots of god: temple cars, general photography. 

Through March 2009, an exhibition of his photos on Indian classical dances covering Odissi, Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Manipuri, Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam are on show at the art gallery of Dakshinchitra, Chennai. 

Why/when did Dr. Pani take up dance photography as a hobby?
"I have been fascinated by the beautiful dancing figures from the temples, particularly Madurai Meenakshi temple during my long stay at Aravind Eye Hospital and during my travel to eye camps to all the nook and corners of Tamilnadu. But I did not have the money to buy a camera to take pictures. On shifting to Pondicherry, I got a Minolta auto focus SLR in 1996 and that started my journey. I used to attend dance, drama and music programs at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram theatre or school courtyard, sit silently and take photos without any flash only mostly on slides, quietly process and print them and enjoy the beauty and grace without understanding anything about dance, the dancer, etc. Only in April 2002 after coming in contact with renowned Odissi dancer Sangeeta Dash, I was further inspired. She prompted me to put up an exhibit on Indian dances at The Sri Aurobindo Ashram exhibition house in December 2002.  She selected and put things in perspective, and a grand exhibition was done spanning four halls with more than two hundred photos."

How did this exhibition at Dakshinchitra come about?
"As the purpose of my photos has been always a search for the lord, I did not think to venture out of Pondicherry. After visiting Dakshinchitra in Dec 2008, again it was Sangeeta Dash who coaxed me to try to put up an exhibition. She has been my inspiration all along and I have tried to concentrate on recreating the mood and to bring out the inner feelings of the dancer. So technique wise I am not an expert or trained at all.  I use very basic equipment.  As my aim has not been to venture into creating any name and fame as a photographer, I have not moved out much out of Pondicherry to take the pictures. God has been gracious to grant me opportunity at Pondicherry during festivals and I have made a few trips to Chidambaram. My search is still on."