Shivaraju BS., also known as Cop Shiva is a Bangalore based photographer whose work concentrates on ideas of theatricality, performance and disguise in contemporary culture.
This series is a result of the photographer’s interactions with Vidyasagar – a Bangalore resident who each day dresses up as Tamil film personality MG. Ramachandran; changing his hair, his clothes and his notion of self.
‘My first reaction at meeting Vidyasagar was curiosity. What followed was a long relationship with him and his family. His life was like a living photo-performance and I wanted to get under the skin of this character through my camera. My initial fascination became a passion to know Vidyasagar and his life. I always wondered about the reality behind the grease paint and his life-long passion to be MGR.
The manipulation of identity through disguise and the idea of taking on a new persona is in many ways a comment on the prevalent influence of cinema in the socio-cultural context of South India. I wanted to capture the dichotomy of a split personality and the duality of man by photographing a man who spends his life masquerading as someone other than his true self. The series therefore looks at the idea of the polarity between reality and fantasy. These intimate portraits are located in Vidyasagar’s home, a private space invaded by my lens. It was here that I began to feel, and hopefully capture, the vulnerability, warmth and acceptance of my character, Vidyasagar aka MGR.’
– Cop Shiva