Art of photography celebrates Indian cinema’s centenary
Jan 27 2013
This is the first-ever photographic presentation for DAG, a gallery that is now widely known for its well-researched and presented exhibitions. In this case as well, the same detailed and painstaking effort can be perceived in bringing into focus the art of photography through the eyes of Nemai Ghosh. Acquired in 2006, the nearly 1,20,000 images have been digitised and form part of Delhi Art Gallery’s extensive archives.
Nemai Ghosh had given up on finding a buyer in India who would be able to digitise the photographs, had also decided to take the extreme step and throw them into the Ganges. This was when DAG stepped in and the rest as they say is history. Curated by Pramod Kumar KG, ‘Nemai Ghosh: Satyajit Ray and Beyond’ brings to the public a number of ‘never-before-seen’ images of sundry goings on during a film shoot — actors on location, sets that we might remember and more importantly, images of Satyajit Ray at work, over a 25-year period. While Ghosh was associated primarily with photographing, Satyajit Ray and his films; he was also involved in recording Hindi mainstream cinema as well as regional Bengali films. According to DAG, it “brings together for the first time this rich body of work, as a tribute to the individual filmmakers, including Satyajit Ray, Indian cinema in its centennial year, as well as the power of the photograph to witness, record and tell stories”.
Among Ghosh’s archival images, there are many images of Satyajit Ray, but also of other films shot in and around Kolkata. Among these, is a unique shot of Bharatanatyam dancer Balasaraswati, taken on the beach while Ray was working on his documentary ‘Bala’. Then there is one of Ray on location in Santiniketan, and another with Sharmila Tagore and Barun Chanda. Among films by other directors, Aparna Sen is shown with Shabana Azmi, and possibly the most recent shot shows Om Puri and Shabana Azmi with the late Patrick Swaze in ‘City of Joy’.
In keeping with DAG’s practice of launching a book with each major show, essays by Pramod Kumar KG, Sabeena Gadihoke and Jai Arjun Singh highlighting Ghosh’s close relationship with cinema are published in the accompanying book. The exhibition offers 250 specially selected images, accompanied by detailed captions. There are also 250 limited edition prints on archival paper in sets of six each.
Coinciding with the centenary of Indian cinema that falls this year, the exhibition gives us the opportunity of being able to see Ghosh’s lesser-known, but extensive documentation of cinema. The show is managing to attract considerable attention, with cinema-lovers and art lovers unable to resist making a visit. ‘Nemai Ghosh: Satyajit Ray and Beyond’ which opened on January 8th was scheduled to close on January 28th, but by popular demand, it has now been extended till January 31.
(The writer is a winner of many advertising design awards and a painter of repute)