Ravi was constantly a part of our lives. We have our own Whatsapp group, where we post things that are funny, and are always in touch. For us (the photography department of The Indian Express), our lives and lifestyle have been closely knit all these years. All our night-outs, parties and work have been with each other. Ravi had recently got a new place in Delhi’s Rajnagar Extension, and he was planning a party as well.
One thing that I admired the most about him was that he was a complete disciplinarian. I used to tell this to other people, too. It is not just about waking up early. It was everything — from what to buy, to clothes to cleanliness to investments.
He was very particular about the way he looked and smelled. He was very particular about technology and gadgets too. The Indian Express social networking presence is among the strongest, and he was the main Instagrammer.
Coming from Ludhiana, he had an innate sense of pride in everything he had achieved. Whatever he did, he valued so much. And it wasn’t just the awards, but also the smallest things in his life. For instance, if there was a message from the editors praising a photograph — he would wear it like a star on his shoulders.
We used to play pranks on him a lot. I remember when he first got transferred from Ludhiana to Delhi. It was in 2009. We were supposed to go and shoot the Ramnath Goenka Awards. Ravi didn’t know his way around Delhi at that time. Another photographer from our team, Praveen Khanna, and I were always mischievous with him in the beginning.
That evening, Ravi was on his motorcycle, as were we, and he kept telling us, “Don’t drive too fast. I don’t want to get lost.” Khanna and I have this thing where we don’t talk but make eye contact. We did so that moment, too, and at a roundabout close by, we starting driving round and round until we spread out and vanished. Ravi kept going around and got lost.
The most beautiful thing about him was that he used to show distress but was always smiling. No matter how much one was rude to him, and even I have been many times, he was always smiling. He was never angry or impatient. He was very calm and mature about everything.
Another thing he used to keep saying was, “Aapne bataya nahi” (You didn’t tell). One day he kept saying that and I lost my cool. He quietly smiled and said, “Aapne bataya toh tha, par samjhaya nahi”. (You did tell, but didn’t explain).
He won a National Award in 2014 for his photographs of the Muzaffarnagar riots (top). In 2010, he won the Best Photographer in the north Indian region by the Canon Press. During the Commonwealth Games, there was a photography campaign by Delhi Tourism, and his photographs did really well there as well.
He was extremely particular about his photographs but, beyond that, he made sure he updated himself on photography, both from India and other countries. He used to hold discussions about photojournalism a lot and often felt sad about how tough it was getting.
He was entrepreneurial in nature and he had thought about getting out and doing something on his own — opening his own studio and doing his own thing with photography and videography.
I am on my way to Ludhiana now and I don’t know how I’m going to react when I see his parents. I keep hearing Ravi’s voice and seeing his face in my mind. His death is so untimely.