Friday, April 23, 2010

Through Raghu Rai's eyes


Picture Copyright: Magnum Photos

India’s finest photojournalist Raghu Rai’s new book on classical musicians promises to be interesting. Titled India’s Great Masters: A photographic journey into the heart of Classical Music (Collins, Rs 3,500), the book takes you up close and personal to some of the legends of classical music. Pandit Ravi Shankar, Annapurna Devi, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Kishori Amonkar, Pandit Kumar Gandharva, Mallikarjun Mansur, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Ustad Bismillah Khan and others.

Years ago, my friend Neeraj Priyadarshi, presently the Photo-editor of The Indian Express, had done a joint exhibition with Raghu Rai on flautist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. All the images were black and white and both had captured Panditji in different moods. Rai had clicked some pictures that were stunning for its candidness. The camera is lurking close to the subject, but the moments captured look so amazingly natural as if the camera is not present at all.

The book promises to have more of these. Many of these pictures appeared in India Today magazine in 1980s when Rai worked as Director of Photography for 10 years. Mallikarjun Mansur on his deathbed having a puff of a cigarette. Bhimsen Joshi in an introspective mood in his Merc. Kumar Gandharva chatting on his bed in Devas. Catch a glimpse of some of these pictures in this review in The Telegraph. Tehelka's April 10 issue on Vidarbha suicides also has pictures of Rai's book.

Impressed by his work at a show in Paris in 1971, Raghu Rai was invited to join the Magnum Collective by the legend himself - Henri Cartier-Bresson

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