New Delhi [India], October 20 (ANI): The 33-year-old Vicky Roy, who started his journey of struggle from ragpicker is now an internationally acclaimed documentary photographer.
Roy originally hails from Purulia in West Bengal.
Speaking to ANI, Roy said, 'My father was a tailor master. He did not have a shop. He used to sit somewhere with a machine. His per day income was Rs 10-15. It was very difficult to survive. My father's dream was that at least one of his children gets an education to the Xth standard. We are a total of 7 siblings. My father sent me to my maternal grandparents because their financial condition was better. My father thought that if I will stay there then I might study. So, when I started living there and while I was growing up I saw in movies that people who usually go to cities become big personalities. So, I thought if I will move to the city then I will also become a hero or a rich person.""One day, I stole some money from my mama ji's (uncle) pocket. I went to the railway station and I saw the train was heading towards Delhi. I was 11 years old then. When I arrived in New Delhi, I could not figure out what to do. There were so many people on the platform. I got scared and started crying at a corner seeing so many people and big platforms. The children who picked rag at the railway station saw me and came to me and asked about me. I told them my story. They gave me some food packets and we became friends. After two days, I also started doing work of rag-picking. The people who used throw water bottles at tracks after using it, we used to collect them and fill them up with clean chilled water after cleaning the bottles. Later, we used to sell it in a general compartment for 5 rupees," he said.
Experiencing the hardships of living at railway platforms, Roy further thought of doing something else for a living and started working at a Dhaba.
'I saw that surviving at the platform was quite difficult because sometimes policemen used to beat us or passengers used to beat us assuming we have stolen their belongings. If a small fight took place at the platform, they use blades on the face or body to harm. So I thought if I will stay here then my face will also get marks. So I decided to leave the platform," he explained.
"There is a Dhaba at Ajmeri Gate near New Delhi, I went there and asked for work. They kept me as a dishwasher. I started working there. A few days later, someone came to the Dhaba to eat food. I served him food. He said instead of doing this work I should study. So he had a conversation with the owner of the Dhaba and sent me to Salam Balak Trust," Roy added.
He said his life was changed after joining the Trust.
"I went to the trust and saw good food is being served and good clothes are given. All kinds of facilities to play were there. All kinds of facilities were there which a lower middle class has. They used to take us to the Himalayas during summer vacation. After every six months, we used to get good clothes to wear. Life was changed after I went to the trust," Roy said.
"I was not good at studies. I got 48 per cent in the Xth standard. My NGO teacher said that I am not good at studying. I should change my track and should do some vocational training. They suggested me few options like TV mechanics, sewing, cooking, etc. I told him that I want to do photography. I chose photography because I thought I will get a chance to travel. I never thought that I will become a photographer. I thought that I can become a good assistant," Roy said.
Speaking about how his journey in photography started, he said, "In 2005, I had to leave Salaam Balak as, after 18, one cannot stay at the shelter home according to the government's rule. Salam Balak searched job for me under a Delhi-based Photographer named Anay Mann. He gave me a job as a photo assistant. At the age of 17, I left Salam Balak as I was not studying regularly. The photographer told me that he will give me Rs 3000 per month along with a cell phone and bike. I thought it was a great job as only 8-10 days I had to work, rest days I am free."Roy remembered that how he took a loan from Salam Balak and bought a camera.
"I used to return the loan amount by paying Rs 500 every month from my Rs 3000 salary. It became difficult for me to survive at Rs 2500. So, I used to work as a waiter in wedding ceremonies. Whatever money I used to get from that, I used to buy film roles and used to do photography. That is how I started my photography journey," he said.
Roy said his first achievement was to put up his first exhibition at Indian Habitat Centre with the title 'Street Dreams' in 2007. In 2008, he participated in World Wide Competition where he was one the four photographers who were selected among participants across the world.
Roy was in New York for six months and was shooting the World Trade Centre's reconstruction. He also participated in an international photography reality show in Sri Lanka.
"There was an award program at Salam Balak trust named 'International Award for Young People' and I won a gold medal. Through that, I was called to London to have lunch with Prince Edward at Buckingham Palace. Then I started a Library called 'Rang Open' library in Delhi. National Geographic channel organised the first reality photography show and they took eight photographers to Sri Lanka. It was a 10 episode show where I was eliminated at the ninth episode. I was in the top four," said Roy.
Roy also published books on photography and his first such book came with the title 'Home Street Home'. After that book, he got a fellowship from MIT Media Lab so that he can learn some more photography techniques and enhance his work. Roy's name came in Forbes India 30 Under 30 list and Vogue's 40 under 40 list'.
Roy has now started social work through his photography.
"Society has given me a lot and I try to return it to them through my photography. There is a skate park in Madhya Pradesh named Janwaar Castle which my German friend started. They told me there is an area in Bundelkhand where there is a water crisis and they need Rs 8 Lakh. I suggested they can sell my photographs. Through that money, they installed a deep bore and a big platform connected with a tank and solar panel. Now, water is available 24 hours," he said.
"A few days back, I had clicked a picture of a family near Jama Masjid. I posted it on my social media. So, one of my friends called me told me that she wants to help this family. I conveyed the message to the family and they said they are originally from Dholpur, Rajasthan and if we can help them in opening a confectionary in their native place. My friend gave Rs 50,000 and I added Rs 15,000. The family went back and opened the shop with that money," he said.
Roy said he is currently working on a project named "Everyone is good at something" which will share stories of persons with disabilities. For the project, he is travelling to 28 states and 8 UTs.
Asked about his journey and his approach towards life, he said "I have said previously on many occasions that a good picture is prepared in a dark room. So I feel if darkness is coming into anyone's life, then God is making a good picture for you. So, you have to wait and work and automatically good things will come to you." (ANI)