She Matters

Stephen Huyler doesn’t care too much about Slumdog Millionaire. “It is a good film but its characters seem like victims for most part of the movie.

Written by EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE | Published:March 3, 2009 11:56 pm

Stephen Huyler doesn’t care too much about Slumdog Millionaire. “It is a good film but its characters seem like victims for most part of the movie. It only shows the strife of the poor in India and does not really focus on how they overcome it,” says the American author-photographer,who is in India,touring with his new book,a lavishly produced Daughters of India (Mapin,Rs 3,000).

Here,Huyler,57,has profiled 20 women,their stories of hope and courage,told in their own words. “India doesn’t particularly have a great reputation in the West for its treatment of women and I wanted to tell these stories of individual accomplishment,” says Huyler,who has extensively used photographs to highlight another aspect of these women,their art. “Most of these women express themselves through art,tribal or the religious kind. I’ve used them to pull the readers into the story,” smiles Huyler,who has displayed 250 illuminating photographs of his subjects,their art and their lives.

Huyler first came to India in the 1970s and never looked back. Over the past 34 years or so,he has travelled the length and breadth of the country,documenting the lives and the art of women from diverse communities — from Kerala to the Himalayas,from the dry western deserts to the east coast and several tiny villages and big cities in between. He began to work actively on the book over nine years ago. “Choosing the 20 women for the book was a challenge. It required me to compare regions and stories and look deeply into the history of their art as well.” So there is Pushpa battling to save her hovel in Mumbai’s slums,Achamma rising as a leading software developer in a male-dominated business world and more.

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