Mission Delhi – Dilip Singh, Connaught Place
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Evening shoppers are gathering around this suited, hatted figure… in silver! Everyone’s looking puzzled.
Is it a statue? Can’t be, the head is moving slightly.
Could it be a real person?
Indeed, people are leaving loose change on a handkerchief placed in front of the performer. Some are clicking his pictures, others are taking selfies with him.
Every evening, Dilip Singh paints his face with silver paint in the Palika Bazaar rest room, changes into a suit painted in the same shade of silver. And then he walks out of the underground market, to stand like a statue for two hours in Connaught Place. Each day he turns up in a different block.
“I started doing this in July,” he says. Mr Singh, who is in his early 20s, arrived recently from Agra. He is an ambitious man though this career move is not a part of his long-term plans. “I want to reach a mukaam (destination) in life… I want to be a comedy actor.” If one day he goes on to become a famous artiste, his present life is sure to be the stuff of legend. But for now, the young man does not even have enough money to rent a hotel room in the city. He sleeps at the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara.
The young man’s first task at the moment is to collect enough money to buy a video camera. He uploads his performing videos on YouTube—the most recent video he posted a month ago is inspired from Charlie Chaplin and has drawn 68 views. Having a good camera, Mr Singh hopes, shall help him produce good-quality content. “Everyday I earn anything between 500 and a thousand rupees,” he says, confessing that he got the idea of performing like a statue from YouTube. “This seems to be very popular in foreign countries but nobody does it in India.”
Meanwhile, a young woman walks up and makes her little daughter stand beside the statue for a photo. At the same moment, another person drops a 50-rupee note on the handkerchief. Mr Singh remains still in his pose.
[This is the 223nd portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The man in silver