Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Different perspectives of life

Jayakrishnan Pillai has started a popular web site called 'One Frames Stories', where writers can look at a photo and tell a story in 99 words

By Shevlin Sebastian  

About a year ago, young entrepreneur Jayakrishnan G Pillai was sitting around with his friends, Anup Joy and Jan Joseph, and having a chat at Kochi. “We were discussing about how it was becoming difficult for people to accept different opinions,” says Jayakrishnan. “Then we realised that it is a matter of perspective. What I see is not what you might see. That is the case when you look at a photograph or read a story.”

So the trio decided to do an experiment. They posted a photograph of a bench on a beach in Fort Kochi. It was placed facing the sea. There are clouds in the sky. It is an evening scene. And there is a sliver of sunlight against the edge of the clouds. They asked their friends to respond to it.

Initially, they decided to give a word count of 140 characters, like a tweet. “Then we decided it should be 100 words, but realised 99 is a catchy number," says Jayakrishnan. "So we stuck to that.”

In the first attempt, they got 18 stories and as many different perspectives. “That was when we realised that we had a special idea,” says Jayakrishnan. “So we started ‘One Frame Stories’, which is being coordinated by my colleagues, Deepthi S. and Sejal Waghmare, through our company Heyyo Media.”

So far, they have put up 76 frames on a weekly basis. The total number of stories is 3299, written by 798 participants.

The writers include doctors, IT professionals, engineers and home-makers and come from everywhere: India, Romania, Sri Lanka, England and Kazakhstan. “It is a platform where people can show their creativity,” says Jayakrishnan. “However, one of the most interesting aspects is how every person looks at a frame in a different and unique way.”

Indeed, it is true. In one image, a man and woman are kissing in an enclosed area, made of bamboo poles. It is dark, except for a dim light shining on their faces.

And here is writer Shoumik’s story, ‘The First Kiss’ in 99 words:

He never wanted to marry her.
He was still waiting for the first love, a picture of a little girl he found on a bus. Years later his wife found that picture and asked him about it.
He confessed that he married her due to family pressure but he was always in love with the girl in the picture.
“Where did you find it?”
“In the bus on the way to school. Why do you ask?” he said.
“Because I lost it when I was little,” she said.
Parents of two shared their first kiss... years after their marriage. 

Renu Kaliyath’s response to the same picture, titled, ‘Stolen Moments’, is completely different:

He was a prominent gay lawyer for the LGBT community, she was a national award-winning closet lesbian actress.
They met at a rally, when their community was protesting a discriminating law.
At first sight they felt the connection, though both of them were in a committed loving relationship.
Moreover their cause was greater than love.
It was out of question trying to take their love forward.
Their only solace was intense stolen moments in dark and forbidding places.

Jayakrishnan smiles and says, “This happens all the time. If I put up a frame, with a river in it, some will react as if it is a fight between two states over water, while others will say it is an opportunity for fishermen.”

Jayakrishnan wants to pass an underlying message. “We should learn to appreciate and accept other people’s perceptions,” says Jayakrishnan. “Once we do that, it will solve a lot of problems in our country.”  

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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