The first volume of Unsung was published in 2007 as a response to our celebrity lead hero culture. Four years in coursework help the making, essay it assumed the mantle of a catalyst for change when it helped raise over Rs. 9 million to the causes of the heroes we featured. Unsung  was used as a case study and as a lecture series at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.

Readers wrote to tell me how it inspired them:

  • “Unsung almost added a new meaning to my life because it made me question the purpose of everything I was doing, of what I do for a profession (photography, design, illustration). UNSUNG felt like the most meaningful outcome.”
  • “It added so much beauty to ourghostwriting lives.”
  • “I almost couldn’t believe the love and intention, not to mention the aesthetics, which went into this book.”
  • “Every time I think about it, it makes me forget my cynicism. It makes me believe how the conviction of one person can use photography so beautifully.”

What can we imbibe from the heroes of UNSUNG? All of them have one thing in common – that their thoughts, words and deeds are always aligned. They say what they think and do what they say. Secondly, the measure of success is their own. Without exception, each of these heroes share these qualities, and I think that has a big role to play in the things they have achieved. There is something heroic about their convictions and their strength to stand by it.

By this definition, anyone can be a hero. One doesn’t need to be doing something that creates ripples in the world or for humanity. Often times, our heroes come in the form of friends and acquaintances who enter our lives, create a profound impact and transform us. They bring about this change by being themselves or by being a mirror to our thoughts and ideas. They become our heroes.

The second volume of UNSUNG is dedicated to these heroes – friends, relatives, acquaintances who have transformed our lives. Their role is not to take us out of our depths of misery or offer us an escape route. Perhaps, it’s as American author Bernard Malamud puts it so succinctly, “Without heroes we are all plain people and don’t know how far we can go.”

image caption here

Laporiya, Rajasthan – Winter of 2004