Sehgal took this picture of pav bhaji at Juhu Beach. Until then, he had been posting photographs shot from the top angle. This was the first atmospheric shot in his collection, and is among his most popular ones
At first glance, Himanshu Sehgal might strike you as an oddball when you see him pull out a yellow plate by a street food kiosk and ask to be served on it.
But, the Delhi-based blogger has over 21,500 followers on Instagram who can't wait to double-tap on the next food photograph he uploads, whether it's of momos from a tiny eatery at Jim Corbett National Park, or a South Indian meal at a wedding in Bengaluru. All, of course, plated aesthetically on his signature plate, which gives his popular account its name, My Yellow Plate.
Now, the 27-year-old plans to go beyond just uploading pictures of India's varied cuisine on social media. Within the next few months, he plans on embarking on a tour of the country, visiting each state and discovering rustic dishes, all the while filming his journey, and, finally, turning it into a documentary.
Red rice, Himachali kadi and siddu, a traditional steamed snack, at Hamta Village near Manali, Himachal Pradesh
How the journey began
My Yellow Plate happened to Sehgal by accident in 2015. Back then, he handled digital marketing for a bakery in New Delhi. "I always enjoyed eating. When the bakery was trying new recipes, I'd usually be their guinea pig," he laughs.
Sometime in August that year, his mother served him his meal of rajma chawal on a yellow plate he hadn't seen before in the house. "I took a picture and uploaded it on my Instagram account, and it got quite a few 'likes'. The bright yellow of the plate was very striking, I believe. People wanted to know what I was eating," he shares. Soon, he was carrying the yellow plate with him everywhere.
He initially took photographs of the plate from the top angle, which didn't display anything apart from the food. However, on a trip to Juhu Beach in 2016, he randomly clicked a plate of pav bhaji with the sunset and strollers in the backdrop, a shot that people could immediately identify as Mumbai. The response led him to continue using this atmospheric style, with an apt view in the backdrop, for the rest of his pictures.
There's an interesting story behind this photograph of matar kulcha, clicked at Red Fort. The site was closed when Sehgal dropped by for a photo. The guards refused to let him in, and just as he was about to give up, a man walked up to him and told him that a 100 metres away was a broken fence, through which he could slide in and out. A quick jog over to a policeman for permission, and he had his picture
To raise money for the documentary, Sehgal started a crowdfunding campaign, which ended unsuccessfully. "There was a lot of support, especially from people who follow MYP on Instagram. However, I've come to realise that Indians are reluctant to part with their money when it comes to funding someone else's travel. The first thing I get asked is, 'Why should I pay for you to tour India?' But, I'm not spending the money on five-star hotels and fancy food. It's a documentation project," he says.
If Sehgal had raised the required Rs 5 lakh for the film, the aim was to set out in July. "The timeline has now been pushed by a month, because I need to figure out another way to get the money. The young man has already charted out the first leg of the trip, which will begin in Siachen and continue on to the Northeast.
He reveals, "The aim is not just to document the food, but also the stories of people who live in these places."
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