"The feeling you get as you walk around is that of an empty film set, which echoes of bygone glories. The surreal nature of the town is further enhanced by a warm, dust-filtered light, which gives everything an extra glow. "
Published on Jan 17, 2012
“Sidhpur is a dusty town in the north of Gujarat bordering on Rajasthan. The Dawoodi Bohras, an affluent trading community of Shia Muslims, built palatial homes in the early part of the last century in styles prevalent in Europe, imitating western Renaissance features and embellishments. In the last 50 years the town has been abandoned almost totally, the only residents left being women and old men. The feeling you get as you walk around is that of an empty film set, which echoes of bygone glories. The surreal nature of the town is further enhanced by a warm, dust-filtered light, which gives everything an extra glow. This shot was taken in the late afternoon as the few women and men still living in Sidhpur began to appear. I waited almost an hour with my tripod set up in the middle of the street, feeling completely alone but very much observed by hidden eyes that peeked through the grated windows- I was Gary Cooper in my own very personal and quirky High Noon in the middle of India. I was fortunate enough to be staying with one of the better-known local families so I was given access to homes and buildings that had been closed for years. As I moved around the abandoned homes and streets, I was filled with a sense of discovery and intimacy that is what I long for in my work. Even if India seems to have been photographed far and wide, it can still offer up many unique and funky surprises.”
Photographer Sebastian Cortes • Interviewed by Christopher Kucway