Do you remember one of the lead characters in the famous Bollywood movie 3 Idiots which wanted to pursue wildlife photography but was stuck in a top college studying engineering? Well, there’s a real life character for it who followed his middle-class parents dream, studied engineering and began working with Yahoo until one day he couldn’t take it anymore.
Today, that man is living his dream and working as a wildlife photographer for BBC, National Geographic and the likes.
This is the story of Bangalore boy Kalyan Varma who is an example of why everyone should be doing what they want to instead of what the society expects them to. Since childhood, he was interested in nature and closely observing but the peer pressure and expectations of parents led to to pursue a degree in engineering after which he started working with Yahoo – an irresistible brand for many.
He is a kind of person who puts his 100 per cent in everything. Even in Yahoo he hailed as a superstar employee of the year. So when he resigned from the coveted job in 2004 everyone was taken aback. He did not know what to do next but he was certain that this is not something he would do all his life.
He suffered a burnout after working with the internet giant Yahoo for three years and wanted to take a sabbatical. He took a few months off as he had a comfortable saving to support him for that time. But never in his wildest dreams did he think that these months would change the whole course of his life.
Taking this detour meant coming out of his comfort zone and risking everything he had earned all these years. Instead of looking for another job, when he went into the wilds, discovering the green with his camera, people thought he had lost his mind. But the truth was different. He had found his calling.
He started exploring the forests and documented whatever he saw. He shared his photographs without any copyright or watermark and he believed in open source. His belief led to misuse of his photographs but he continued his work with full dedication. This got him a project with BBC in late 2006 which paid him a nominal amount but he knew this is a big opportunity so grabbed it with both his hands. His understanding of the wildlife beautifully translated in his photographs and BBC awarded him for outstanding work behind the camera.
Every individual must have the right to follow their dreams but there are unending challenges that come your way. Kalyan says, “People around me thought I had gone nuts to leave a good job and do this. But eventually they all accepted it and now are even proud of my work.”