Raghu Rai captures legendary musicians in their grit and glory in a new book
From the exuberant exchange between tabla maestro Alla Rakha and his son Zakir Hussain to the touching, intimate moment when Mallikarjun Mansur took his last drag on a cigarette held by his son, Raghu Rai’s solo exhibition on Indian classical musicians resonates with passion and even humour. The show, hosted by the Vadhera Art Gallery, opens at the Lalit Kala Akademi in Delhi on February 24 and a companion book, India’s Great Masters (HarperCollins India, Rs 3,500), will be released shortly.
The images have been captured over three decades. “I love classical music and have attended concerts since the early 1980s, my camera always ready beside me,” says Rai, 45, whose iconic images have often defined India to the world. Sitting behind his huge wooden desk at his office, he adds, “Some images have been taken from the orchestra pit during a performance; others in the homely environs with their families after many teas and chats. However, two things unite this vast body of work — one is that these maestros have all risen above the dictates of their gharanas to create a style of their own; and two is the spiritual level their music has achieved. It’s easy to make pleasing, even good music. But very few great artists can stir the soul,” he says.
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