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Photographic tribute to Satyajit Ray

Baishali Adak, Jan 9, 2013,

Fine eye

Candid Om Puri, Shabana and Patrick Swayze during the shooting of Roland Joffes City of Joy

Fans of Satyajit Ray and world cinema are in for a treat. The life and times of the celebrated filmmaker have been brought to life with Delhi Art Gallery (DAG) recently acquiring photographer Nemai Ghosh’s entire photo archive on him as well pictures that Ghosh took of other filmmakers.

The current exhibition though focuses more on Ray and has been put up at DAG’s Hauz Khas facility and is sure to attract researchers, photography lovers and cineasts.

Nemai has for long been considered the quintessential Satyajit Ray biographer. From 1969 to 1992 – the year Ray passed away – Nemai accompanied him to his sets, had access to his home and studio. In effect, he photographed Ray at work; the shooting of various films and almost all actors of the time.

In short, he captured an era in Indian cinema. So, Delhi Art Gallery thought it befitting to put up this archive on the occasion of 100 years of Indian cinema.

Curator of the exhibition, Pramod Kumar KG, informs Metrolife, “The gallery acquired these pictures in 2006 – a total of 1,20,000 shots. It took us four years to sort them and put up a cross-section of 240. Even for us, it is the culmination of a long journey.”

“Inspite of being a celebrated filmmaker,” he continues, “There are only a few pictures of Ray himself. Nemai is the only person to have followed him like a shadow and documented his work. We are sure that many more such impressive exhibitions can be put up with this album.”

The exhibition has pictures of Ray’s first film photographed by Nemai - Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne. They show Ray making sketches, adjusting the camera, speaking to the actors, recording sound etc. Then there are pictures from the shooting of Aranyer Din Ratri, which shows a young Simi Garewal and a simple Sharmila Tagore.

Then there are shots from the making of Shatranj ke Khiladi where Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Shabana Azmi and Amjad Khan are captured in various moods. It has the earliest available pictures of Om Puri, Smita Patil and Mohan Agashe shooting for Sadgati; Rekha, Shashi Kapoor and Shankar Nag in Girish Karnad’s Utsav, Naseeruddin Shah in Paar and Vinod Khanna in Mukaddar ka Sikandar.

Besides, there are random shots of Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan much before they were married; Anil Kapoor shooting for his first film Kahan Kahan se Guzar Gaya and Rupa Ganguly during the filming of Padmanadir Majhi.

Nemai also photographed Ray during the making of Sikkim and Bala on Bharatnatyam dancer T Balasaraswati. The exhibition is accompanied by a book of essays on Nemai’s work authored by Pramod, Sabeena Gadhioke and Jai Arjun Singh. Pramod says, “The exhibit is a tribute to Nemai as well Ray. His contribution to documenting Indian cinema is unparalleled.”


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