King Commoner Citizen is a collection of photographs that blends the somewhat incongruous contemporary lives of erstwhile Indian princes with the incredibly diverse, layered, euphoric, despairing, paradoxical existence of the common Indian. Panjiar’s study is careful; he accords to king and commoner alike a quiet space and dignity. He achieves this by rejecting the intrusively newsy or overtly stylistic image, choosing a wider, inclusive form of portraiture instead. Through these portraits, the viewer gains access to the odd contiguity of ease and despair in the lives of the protagonists. Contrasts abound, though the shadows do not always fall predictably. Eventually, the terms King and Commoner prove to be just bait. We are invited to examine the distinction, only to find it deliberately obfuscated, the boundaries between the two increasingly blurred. Royalty decays, the regal reduced to artifice; the commoner finds moments of uncrowned rule in the airy abandon of his daily round. There is a deep melancholy in the eyes of the ageing nawab; the rustic smiles, man and monkey sleep the mythical sleep of kings. Panjiar’s viewfinder, for a fleeting moment, erases a difference.
– Extracted from Sanjeev Saith’s foreword to ‘King, Commoner, Citizen” published by India Picture in 2007.
Photographs: Prashant Panjiar
Text: Sanjeev Saith
About The Photographer
Born on March 30, 1957, Prashant Panjiar is a self-taught photographer. A post-graduate in Political
Science from Pune University, India, he worked on photographic projects focusing on peasant
movements and other social issues through his college and university days. His first self-financed
project that received acclaim was his work for a book on banditry in the Chambal region of Central
India. In 1984, he joined mainstream journalism with the Patriot newspaper where he photographed
many important events including the riots after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, terrorism in
Punjab and the elections.