Photos : Raghu Rai

Text: Guardian 20

Photographer Raghu Rai’s portraits are his candid studies that capture the fleeting moment. Rai’s technique is to keep taking pictures of the subject until he or she is unguarded in their relationship with the camera. Some of the strong images on display here are of those caught off-guard.  

M.S. Subbulakshmi’s portrait was taken when she was performing. Or take the picture of Satyajit Ray, the picture was taken on the sets of Ghare Baire. Ray had asked Rai, “What do you want me to do?” Rai did not know what to say. So he took some pictures rather uncomfortably. After a few minutes, he said, “That’s enough!” “No, ManikDa, that’s not enough!” When Rai protested, Ray smiled and gave some more shots. During a break between the scenes, Ray lay down on the same bed, smoking his pipe, on which his heroine was sitting and Rai took some pictures from the front. Then Rai moved towards the other side from where one could only see Ray’s back and Rai realised the lighting was very dramatic. One could see the adjoining room through the door and there were spectacular shadows falling on the wall. So Rai said, “ManikDa, please look here!” He turned with an intense look and that was it.

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