Bengaluru: The National Security Guard (NSG) has paid tributes to its Mumbai terror attack martyrs in a stunning fashion.
To honour its martyrs during the 10th anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks, the elite force hired a 'sharpshooter' - Pravin Talan - a leading fashion photographer.
The end product is a stunning 2019 calendar. The calendar is in great demand among the security forces and many officials in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) are finding it difficult to lay their hands on a copy.
As an organization, the NSG has always shied away from the limelight, which explains the enigma surrounding the elite force.
"There has always been curiosity among the youth of the nation to know more about NSG, who they are, how they train and what they do. This calendar gives a glimpse into the high level of training and capabilities of an NSG commando. As they are of members of a 'Zero-error world-class-force' the photographs had to live up to that image," an MHA official told Onmanorama in response to e-mailed queries.
The engaging concept covers all the traits of this elite force -- be it the valour, willingness to take high risks, or the intensive training and preparation commandos undergo before a mission.
"These are hallmarks of an NSG commando, and the awe-inspiring calendar with impressive photos is a pictorial but reassuring message to the citizens that come what may he would make the supreme sacrifice… The photos are a silent homage and tribute to those martyrs. Pravin Talan has captured the 'Men in Black' at their combative best," says the official.
Interestingly, this is the third year the NSG has come out with a calendar pinned to a theme. The MHA official said the idea was to honour the martyrs and inspire the youth.
From its inception in 1985-86, Martyrs of NSG find a place on a dedicated page that also has a crisp message from Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Havildar Gajendra Singh Bisht, who laid their lives during the Mumbai terror strikes on 26/11, are among the 19 NSG bravehearts who have been featured on the special page.
"It takes umpteen hours of training, steely resolution, raw courage and abundant passion to become a Black Cat Commando. These commandos have time and again proved that they are the better than the best. I believe NSG is like a Sudarshan Chakra for the terrorists," says Rajnath Singh in his message.
MHA officials say that the reaction to NSG's latest 'paper mission' has been overwhelming.
"In photographs, the commandos are just being themselves — what they are trained to do. It has been beautifully shot by Pravin Talan. The concept has caught the imagination of many," says the official.
The 12 top-notch photos earmarked for each month of 2019 are awe-inspiring, thanks to the near-life effect they give, and the credit goes equally to the commandos and the photographer.
The NSG decided to honour its martyrs as the 10th anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks drew closer in 2018.
The organization has been a part of many successful operations countrywide, but the Mumbai terror attacks stand apart because of the sheer impact they had on the nation's psyche.
Pravin Talan, the man who was chosen for this sensitive shoot, is an internationally-acclaimed photographer, highly admired for his action shots, respect for the uniform and artistic interpretation of his subjects.
Pravin's insight into the training, functioning and capabilities of commandos from various forces made him a natural choice for this special 'photo operation'.
His respect for Black Cat Commandos of the NSG finds utterance in this piece of work. Most of the photos of the limited edition calendar were taken during various training missions.
"Sarvatra Sarvottam Suraksha, is the motto of NSG. The calendar has lived up to the high standards of the NSG and if you manage to get hold of one it will always be a prized possession," says Bhuvanesh C, an entrepreneur.
(The writer is an independent aerospace and defence journalist, who blogs at Tarmak007 and tweets @writetake.)