Filming Bodies after a Massacre

Among other roles, I have also been a Cameraperson with a News Channel. Thankfully I burnt out of that role early enough. Climbed out of that hole and lay vertical on the ground, looking at the sky, till a crow flew by.

Composing pictures of dead people, and doing shot breakdowns of the details of air crashes, bomb blasts, massacres and other disasters were some of the unexpected things I found myself doing. My bigger shock was not having to do it, but how fairly simple and automatic it was. Even if I would close my eyes after composing and roll camera with eyes wide shut.
Sometimes I would come back to office, lock myself in the washroom and cry till I felt better. (and then proceed on the next shoot). Sometimes it took 8-9 years before a few words agreed to come tumbling out and at least describe the actions. Not yet the feelings, though.

Mumbai Rajdhani arrives in Delhi,
Straight to work from a holiday

Natasha, you have a shoot with Sanjay Ahirwal
Drive to airport
Board Airforce flight
with George Fernandes
Other men
What’s the story, Sanjay?
He’s distracted
I’m exhausted

Indo-Gangetic Plains from my window seat
Wheat squares, meandering river, shades of brown

Patna airport
disembark, chopper waiting for us on same runway
Gaps in the chopper floor
Green countryside, rivers
Fertile lands

Hovering over a village
Crowds
Dust
Bodies
There was a massacre last night

Bodies in lines
Gashes, big wounds
kept on display
for ministers, media
Dead faces, dead eyes
hand held camera
the STENCH of death
flies buzzing so loud
women crying
wailing, singing

Being jostled,
Jostling to get the shots
LS, MS, CU
Roll camera, close my eyes
hold my breath

Sound of another chopper
Run for the shot,
sound bite of minister
I’m walking backwards, running backwards, getting his shot as he walks towards the
Display
Plug the mike, get the bloody audio
Sanjay holding me
Holding me

Lens full wide, focus on minimum,
Cut aperture
George mumbles something
Looks adequately stricken
The noise

My face. My face.
Something died in me that day

But I lived.

About Natasha Badhwar

"Because I'm a Tinker. That's who I am. Tinkers fix things. But I can't do it alone." (Pause for lots of action. Group Action......) "You did it, Tinker, you saved Spring!" I also have three children, one marriage, a million friends and one life.
This entry was posted in cameraperson, death, news, television. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Filming Bodies after a Massacre

  1. Susan says:

    Beautifully expressed.

  2. Aadividrohi says:

    Can't even say — excellent poem !Getting to know a Different You.

  3. Iris says:

    Dear God. What horror

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