Instagram eyes rediscover beauty of Kolkata

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KOLKATA: A small and sparkling slice of Kolkata’s sky has become the latest sensation on the timeline of city’s Instagrammers and social media enthusiasts portraying the myriad hues of the rising sun.

Early in the morning every day, scores of amateur photographers and professional shutterbugs train their smartphones and lenses on the eastern part of the sky on Maidan to photograph the perfect twilight frames when the sun crosses the space between Tata Centre and a residential high-rise coming up beside it.

This is only the latest additions to the list of places in the city which are popular with Instagrammers and social media enthusiasts. Kumortuli, Prinsep Ghat, Kolkata Gate, China Town near Tiretta Market, several churches, mosques and temples and Victoria Memorial have been receiving “love signs” on Instagram which is equivalent of “like” on Facebook.

Instagram is a photo sharing app which can be accessed on smartphones and on personal computers. Sociologists say apps like Instagram create a space to curate images for subcultural groups to portray a city and its landmarks through their perspective. These images are colourful and attractive but there are only certain images of the city.

Debangshu Mukherjee is an IT professional and an amateur photographer who is member of several Instagram groups.
“It is like an eruption of fiery colours when they come out from the horizon and emerge from behind the buildings,” said Mukherjee. “The colour of the sky changes after every few minutes and the phenomenon lasts for only a few minutes.”

For many to get a glimpse — and good frames — of the rising sun means dragging themselves out of the bed by 4- 4.30am.

“I stay in the southern suburbs of the city and it takes me at least 45 minutes to reach Maidan. It means I have to wake up really early,” said Ankit Dutta, another Instagrammer.

Several landmarks in Kolkata have been pitchforked to international “fame”, courtesy the reach of social media. Before any festival or cultural events, the Instagram or Facebook feed is crammed with related pictures. While Kumartuli registers maximum footfalls when the idols are being carved, Zakaria Street is the most popular destination of Instagrammers in Ramzan.

“Even foreigners visiting the city can be located at these places clicking pictures because they have seen them on Instagram,” said Instagrammer Rai Dasgupta.

One can easily view the photos by adding hashtag (#) symbol to the name of the place or occasion in the search section which will throw up related images.

Sociologists caution about the inequalities between what is on a photo-sharing app and what is offline.

“Such apps are built in a manner that they push a certain aesthetic sense. When several sub-cultural groups post colourful and attractive pictures it curates a particular image of a city or a place. But there is a possibility that a large part of the city is left out because it may not reinforce the same aesthetics,” said Sujoy Ghosh, a city-based sociologist.

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