Thulirkal – Giving Back To Jaffna Through Her Photography, Jananie Baskaran!

UntitledCTYA’s Blog has started a new Feature on Fridays, Thulirkal. Thulirkal meaning bud reflects the young Tamil youth we will be featuring. These youth are the buds of our community, and are growing into strong, achieving young men and women! 

This week, we’ve brought you Jananie Baskaran!

Jananie Baskaran was born in the Middle East and moved to Canada in her early teens. She currently holds a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree from UOIT.  Along with her books, her passion for dance kept her undergrad life exciting. Jananie was the co-founder, coordinator and Bharathnatyam choreographer for the Oshawa Titans dance team, which took part in many inter-university dance competitions including CTYA’s Thaalam. Photography was something she became interested in and spent time doing during her post-grad years. Jananie currently balances a career as a health care professional and a photographer for 3D Media.

3D Media initially had three members and focused on event photography along with portfolios for artists, sports/work teams, products and baby shoots. At present, Jananie manages 3D Media independently with a focus on portfolios, product shoots and charity work.

CTYA Blogs: So let’s get warmed up. Ok, now don’t think, just say what comes to mind first. 1,2,3…

Nikon or Canon? Canon
Mutton or Chicken? That’s a tough one! Chicken.
Predictable or Spontaneous? Spontaneous
Dream travel destination? Thailand, Venice & India (at the moment)
If you could photograph anyone in the world, who would it be? David Beckham!

CTYA Blogs: Toronto talent Drake famously sang, “started from the bottom, now we’re here”. What was the “bottom” or start to your photography venture?

The start to my photography venture was a combination of having photogenic friends who I got to shoot all the time and being lucky enough to capture the beauty of Sri Lanka almost every year during family vacations.

But the bottom would be the struggle I faced when I wasn’t able to handle criticism I initially received for pursuing photography as a career. Being a Tamil, female photographer was not an easy title to represent because it was a role that was different from what women in our community chose. Fighting through those stereotypes and creating a mark for myself is a tough but worthy battle.

CTYA Blogs: What existing myths about photographers would you like to debunk?

I think the biggest one is that having all the ‘expensive’ equipment will provide you with better photographs. Wrong! Having an eye for unique perspectives and capturing images that are hard to describe in words is what photographers would benefit from and should constantly work on. I wish for photography to be appreciated as the art of capturing beauty instead of a quick way to make money once you have the right equipment and clients.

CTYA Blogs: Tell us about your initiative Palm Roots.

Palm Roots is a charity-based auction, which I initiated in 2013 to raise funds for children in Jaffna. As clichéd as it sounds, my first visit to Jaffna in 2013 changed my perspective about my life here in Canada. Even though I’ve visited other parts of Sri Lanka regularly, it was my first visit to a place we call our ‘home town.’ Until then, everything I had heard about Jaffna was based on media, books and knowledge that my Dad shared with me. But seeing the consequences people faced due to the war in Jaffna and realizing that we take things such as education, our basic needs such as food and shelter for granted urged me to give back to my community and help those who weren’t able to afford these necessities.

I have had two auctions so far where I sold photographs I’ve taken during trips to Sri Lanka, Dubai, Oman and a few photographs from Toronto and donated proceeds to Durgapuram Mahalir Illam (Home for Girls in Tellipalai, Jaffna) and various projects in Vavuniya through Miracle Family Care (MFC). I have raised funds for orphanages/students in Jaffna through Palm Roots and collaborative auctions by organizations such as Kalvi Connections.

CTYA Blogs: Where do you see yourself and Palm Roots ten years from now?

The best part about life is that it’s unpredictable. The more we plan and expect, the more likely we will be disappointed. The only things I wish for at the moment are those I can achieve by the end of 2015. However, I would like to add that my emphasis is on education for our future generation back home so I hope to focus on providing more financial support to educational institutions in Jaffna.

CTYA Blogs: You are an excellent example of leadership within the youth community in giving back. What would you say are your strongest leadership traits and tell us how it helped you develop into the character you are today?

I think determination and a positive spirit are two traits that I try to work on as much as possible. At times, we get pushed towards certain fields of study, careers, and life decisions because it’s what someone else wants us to do. Being able to stand your ground with the decisions you want to make or the way you want to be, while continuing to pursue your dreams is extremely important, even if you have to do it alone. This has taught me to be independent. I’m a workaholic at times (most of the time, yikes!) so I tend to get work done more efficiently when I work alone. It has given me the opportunity to face my fears head on and realize that I am able to handle any challenge thrown at me on my own. There will always be someone you get compared to but being confident in yourself is most important to developing your character.

CTYA Blogs: If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?

Nothing at all. I’ve learnt to accept things for the way they have worked out and have taught myself to look at failures of my past as lessons for the future.

CTYA Blogs: Finish this sentence. “To me, Tamil youth are…”

the creators of our future outlook on Tamil tradition and culture.

CTYA Blogs: Anything else you’d like to add?

I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate CTYA for all their initiatives so far to promote and support Tamil Youth and our art forms. I was part of a photography contest a few years ago, which CTYA had initiated and regardless of not winning the contest, it gave me the exposure I needed at that time and also gave me a push to keep working hard.  I will always be thankful for it and I wish CTYA all the best for their future projects.

And a note for youth who are hesitant to follow their dreams – We are so afraid of failure that we hesitate to take a step forward. We get too comfortable with the way our lives are or too scared about the “what-ifs” that we forget about the unlimited opportunities available outside our boundaries. The fears we possess are the ones we think we have. So keep fighting through every obstacle you face. Hard work will always have its rewards!

Thanks Jananie for sharing your experiences today. Support her portfolio and updates on Palm Roots here!

For more information or to suggest a youth to interview, please feel free to email us at!

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply