Millennium Post

More to Prabuddha than his nudes

When it comes to photography, in India, there are a few names that make the list without second thought. Raghu Rai is one of them. One of the stalwarts of creativity who gave photography a new dimension and a perspective with his work.

Speaking to Millennium Post a day after another big name in his field, Prabuddha Dasgupta, passed away, Rai dwelled a bit on creativity. The same creativity that separated the likes of Rai and Dasgupta from millions of camera toting individuals. Trained, perhaps, only to be a civil engineer Rai took up photography by chance.

'Only five percent of the creative people are highly evolved individuals', says Rai, 'the rest ninety five are those who have been honed and trained to be creative by a host of pictures saved in their heads.' In creativity, every individual responds to situations as per their character, their sensitivity and their upbringing and a whole lot of other other value systems, but that is only for a a few highly evolved individuals, feels Rai, talking about vision in photography. 'Taking good pictures and writing good pieces is not enough, you must have originality,' says Rai. 'Bulk of the stuff is being done from the mind and the head from things they have seen before.'

'Most viewers are happy with what is familiar and what is pretty. But all that is pretty is anti-creativity,' says Rai. 'You take a picture of a pretty child, it is a pretty child; you take a picture of a pretty girl – it is a pretty girl! What have you contributed to it is the question,' Rai adds.

Most of the work he has seen today is repetition of some kind, says Rai. Very little is original for him individually, he rues. He looks at it very critically, for in creativity you know what has gone on and what is presently going on, so you can stand apart, says the photographer. Very few have managed to evolve in this space.

Speaking of fellow lensman Dasgupta, Rai says that he was definitely one of the few evolved artists he has had the pleasure of interacting with. Though Dasgupta was more a commercial photographer than Rai was, he gave a lot of importance to personal creativity, says Rai. And that is exactly what made Dasgupta who he was.

Though he never worked with Dasgupta he did interact with him in various exhibitions and parties. 'He was a great photographer and a wonderful human being,' says Rai. Since people do become arrogant and difficult when they become famous, for Rai, Dasgupta was a different human being. He did wonders with the female form as well as nature, says Rai. Though most people remember Dasgupta for his nudes and the magic he created by photographing characters and not just people, his works on nature were just as stunning. While most photographers in these times choose either the human form or nature and take the easy way out, Dasgupta was one artist who handled both magically, feels Rai. Even when it came to commercial photography, Dasgupta added his own unique touch to it all with the same originality that Rai stressed on, and thus Dasgupta's death is a great loss.

'A good photographer is one who hears out the art director and then gives his own interpretation of it all,' says Rai. Only the lesser photographers may need to adhere to the commercial requirements – the greater ones clearly don't. And that is the magic of it all.

Jhinuk Sen is a Senior Copy Editor at Millennium Post.
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