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Ragu Rai's photographs are not merely portraits but "capture moments or facets" of each musician's life with their music. In this picture, S Balachander, is seen playing the veena [plucked instrument] in Mahabalipuram in southern India. Balachander, who died in 1990, was also an accomplished filmmaker who produced, directed and acted in films and sang songs.
About Music Maestros: Photographs by Raghu RaiStoryltd is pleased to present Raghu Rai’s collection of photographs shot of the Indian Music Maestros.
India’s best known photographer, Raghu Rai, first shot a series of memorable photo essays on the masters of Indian classical music for India Today magazine in the mid-1980s. Since then, he has never stopped shooting them – in concerts, in their homes, with their gurus, and in special locations.
Rai profiles only thirteen masters – the greatest of the great – nayak musicians who went much beyond their gharanas by their own individual approach to music. They include Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, M. S. Subbulakshmi, Mallikarjun Mansoor, Kumar Gandharva, S. Balachander, Allah Rakha, Zakir Husain, Vilayat Khan, Bismillah Khan, Kishori Amonkar, Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Bhimsen Joshi.
Ten of these masters have already passed away, so these portraits – in turn, affectionate, intense, playful, reverent -- will remain their definitive ones, a precious and unsurpassable record of Indian musical heritage.
Only a true rasik like Raghu could have taken these pictures – for they required someone who not only understood classical music but who approached these masters with complete humility. In a rare and very appealing blend, Rai shows us the masters at work and play both -- the intensity on the stage contrasts perfectly with informal pictures taken at home.
Raghu Rai is one of India’s renowned photographers/photojournalists; a name associated with some of the most memorable photographs that have shaped modern Indian history. Raghu Rai’s interest in music began as a child, when he wanted to be a musician. That was not to be but his interest in classical music took root in the mid-1960s, when he became a photojournalist. However, it was only in the mid-1980s, as Photo Editor of India Today magazine, that he started a systematic exploration of classical music – an obsession that continues to this day.
A trailblazer, Rai has covered many social, political and cultural themes, and his photo essays have appeared in world’s leading magazines and newspapers, including Time, Life, National Geographic and the New York Times.
Along the way, Rai has authored over twenty books, including The Sikhs, Calcutta, Taj Mahal, India and Mother Teresa – Faith and Compassion, and his work has been exhibited in many major cities of the world.
His works have been published in leading international magazines, and he has been the recipient of several awards and honors, including India’s highest civilian award, the Padmashree (1971) and the Officier des Arts et des Lettres. Rai is an associate of Magnum Photos since 1977 (he was nominated by Henri Cartier-Bresson), he has served on the jury of the World Press Photo three times. He presently lives in New Delhi with his family.
The collection is also accompanied with a book that was published in conjunction with the show. The book is accompanied by a perceptive text written by noted writer and music expert Ashok Vajpayee, director of Lalit Kala Academy. His pithy profiles of these musicians not only explain what made them great but give us remarkable snapshots of their lives, on and off the stage. A fonder photographic tribute to the custodians of Indian classical music could not have been possible -- this is a collector’s edition.