Retrospectives – A Raghu Rai Photography Exhibition!

“A Journey of a Moment in Time – Retrospectives”, said a column in Bombay Times Arts n Culture page. Retrospectives was the word that grabbed my attention and I wasn’t disappointed as it was an exhibition by the same photographer. Raghu Rai. Just back from a this very fantastic Photography Exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA).

Raghu Rai is one of India’s finest documentary photographer known for his photographs of the Real India. His extensive coverage of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy even won him a World Press Photo award in the year 1984.

Most of the photographs are in Black and White. Ranging from wide panoramas to normal frames to vertical wide angled perspectives, Rai has taken care of every angle. Almost all of the photographs are quite dramatic with the Human Element, a couple of landscapes are also featured. Portraits of Indian Classical Musicians in their element are particularly appealing. Mother Teresa’s portraits are really moving. Photographs of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy really get one by the gut. They are very graphic.

Raghu Rai’s portrayal of life around Ghats of India really appealed to me. Be it the Ghats of Varanasi or the numerous Ghats at Kolkata (really reminded me of my days there). We all go around such places, do all the religious stuff, but do we really ponder over the life going on around us there? Rai gives us beautiful perspectives there.

The second floor of the Gallery has Color photographs which take one through a colorful journey across India, from Varanasi to Thiruvananthapuram to Mumbai to Kolkata.

If anyone from Mumbai is planning on going there, I would definitely like to make particular mention of some images that really floored me.

1. My Father and My Son – a BW image of just the hands of an old man and a child entangled in each other. Just looking at the photograph one can deduce the emotions that aren’t visible in the frame.

2. Among the Sparrows

3. Traffic at Chauri bazaar – a wide panorama shot really gives us an idea of Delhi in the 1960s. The chaos, vendors and rickshaws, so typical of Indian Bazaars.

4. Avani at her farm – shows a profile of lil girl in her car located in a region that has very scary clouds and its bout to rain.

5. Immersion at Babughat – a very typical Kolkata photograph during the Poojas. I loved it just for the nostalgia:d

6. Indira Gandhi at the Congress Session – it shows Indira Gandhi surrounded by her party members in a meeting, with the focus only on Indira Gandhi. The emotions on her face convey lots of thoughts (anger and sadness were two emotions I could deduce)

7. A Bazaar Scene – this photograph has an old man covering the bottom half of the frame, sound asleep with the chaos goin on behind him indicated by the slow shutter speed.

8. Cows and Pilgrims – taken on a ghat, where a pilgrim and the cows fill the frame in such a way that it appears that the man is sandwiched between the cows.

9. Wrestlers in Akhara – Simple daily life photograph but the painting on the doo r of the akhara seems to merge with the real wrestler as an extension to his arm. Very very creative composition.

10. Combed beach – the textured sand after the waves have retreated back in the waters.

11. Ayodhya – The day before – This series of photographs was clicked one day before the Demolition of the Babri Masjid. Not a soul can imagine from the mood of the photographs, what
was to follow the next day.

12. An Artist Studio – It shows one of the many sculpture studios in Kolkata. The fascinating part about this image is that the statues and real people are arranged in such a manner that we feel the statues are real and the real people are statues. This picture just reinforced in me the true Power of Composition of ones photographs.

Saving the Best for the last. “Indira Gandhi in the Himalayas” – This picture just has the Himalayan hills in the background and a silhouette portrait in the foreground. It’s a Profile shot with not even a cm of visibility, but anyone can easily recognize that its Indira Gandhi. I was super impressed by this image.

“Burial of an unknown child” from the Bhopal gas Tragedy series really chokes you. You will definitely feel something. I think it was this photograph that won the World Press Photo Award.

That was about it. I am so glad that I finally got to see a Raghu Rai exhibition. Happier even more that I have been able to keep up my resolution of seeing atleast one Photography Exhibition every month. Its been great so far with Exhibitions by greats like Rai and Henri Cartier Bresson already seen.

Take Care


2 thoughts on “Retrospectives – A Raghu Rai Photography Exhibition!

  1. Hi,i went to the raghu rai exhibition in del in april… just saw its banners in mumbai this week :)the phots were awesome!!and one old photographer told me that the kushti photo wasn’t a natural shot.. it was a planned one… if its true then i am a bit disappointed to hear that….


  2. NGso good to know that some blogger i know does attend the Photography Exhibitions. well Rai’s a genius n his monochromes are sheer brilliance at work.well obv it wasnt a natural shot. but then its the idea behind the composition of the photograph that is commendable. photography cant be natural always:D compositional manipulations are allowed. but that dosent mean one include an element that wasnt there in the original comp via photoshop. theres a fine line:Dtake careciao


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