Ever wondered what it’s like for the soldiers on the field? The terrains they walk on, the aircrafts they fly. Getting an insight into their life is difficult for us civilians.
Arjun Menon, an army child, got the chance to cover the Indian Army in action, up close and personal.
And the photos are marvellously “extraordinary”.
His photo series, ‘The Extraordinary’ gives us a glimpse of the Paratroopers, in the harshest of conditions.
Whether it’s the scorching heat or the freezing cold, they are seen going ahead without a frown on their face.
With the sun shining bright, the military is down on the ground in action.
Accessing heavy machinery, always ready for scenarios that aren’t favourable, we can only imagine the difficult life the military lead away from their homes.
Whether it’s the choking dust or the heavy winds, the military is seen moving forward with their heads held high.
Looking at these photos we realise the work it goes into protecting the country and its people.
When asked what his inspiration for the series was, Menon told ScoopWhoop about his father who was a pilot for the Indian Army,
“The inspiration behind this project was one person, my dad. He was a Pilot for the Indian Army Aviation. Like most kids that age I used to feel that dad was the coolest. I mean, imagine flying a heavy metal machine, in some of the most harshest environments on Earth (above the Himalayas to Rainforests and deserts), performing combat training and helping out paratroopers jump off his helicopter and calling it a day’s work.”
Though, 16 years ago, our country and the family lost the pilot in a helicopter crash.
Shooting with the Army must not have been an easy task. Especially when their guard is up. Talking about his experience photographing them, he mentioned how they were sceptical at first,
“I don’t blame them at all. I was a random photographer asking to be sent to their secret bases for taking photographs. It took a while for them to get back. Then, I had to make multiple trips to Delhi to discuss the idea. Once they realised I was genuine, they were fully supportive, and went out of their way to make it happen. From arranging para-trooping sessions to helicopter rescue drills in difficult locations, they were as pumped for the project as I was.”
On being asked by Condé Nast Traveller where he shot the photos, Arjun said,
“I can’t tell you where I shot these. These were all remote bases. I would arrive at the base, spend a few days understanding the lay of the land, scouting locations and planning each image. We shot across all kinds of terrain: deserts, mountains and rainforests to show the kind of conditions the army operates in.”
He mentioned how he was hoping to observe and document the training, pseudo combat and practice sessions. In the photos, we get to see exactly that.
The pictures capture the difficult terrains the army hustles on, the barren lands, the intensity of the situation they’re in.
The impact Menon means to make from the series stems from how there is a shortage of soldiers,
“Indian Army has been at an all time low at recruiting officers and soldiers. In fact as of 2018, the Armed forces is under shortage of over 52,000 soldiers. Over 7600 posts of officers is lying vacant in the Army alone. “
And how he hopes to inspire the youth,
This is a series that we ordinary people could potentially draw inspiration from. Inspire the youth enough to aim to be the next Pilot, Engineer, Medic for our esteemed armed forces.
This tribute has made us realise the hard work that goes into protecting the country.
Whether it’s the comfort of their homes, or the distance from their loved ones.
The sacrifices made by the Indian Army is greatly appreciated.
There is no comparison to what the commandos go through everyday, it is commendable that they fight through difficult situations away from the world’s luxuries, without any complains.
The project was a difficult one, that involved bearing the cold and facing other hardships just to remind us of how this is the soldiers’ daily routine. The result is spectacular and we are grateful.
All photographs are sourced from the photographer, Arjun Menon.