Raghu Rai to unravel Kolkata in future publication

Kolkata: Turning his gaze on the myriad shades of this metropolis, his "most favourite city", legendary lensman Raghu Rai plans to unravel the enigma known as Kolkata in some future publication yet again.

Rai, on his umpteenth sojourn to Kolkata, is frequenting the alleys of the potters` hub Kumartuli and the mystic river front to magically capture these vignettes on the frame.

"Kolkata never fails me. When I hit the alleys of this Metro I feel so familiar with the air and the surroundings. You are greeted on the street by total strangers every now and then. In Delhi, where I live, half of the people I meet on the streets remain strangers. But in Kolkata these strangers become my acquaintances the next moment," Rai told PTI after the release of his book `Calcutta Kolkata : It Never Begins, it Never Ends` here last night.

Rai, whose previous photos -- images of Durga, Kumartoli (2004), preparing for Durga Puja (1999), immersion at Babughat in 1989 -- were part of the gallery show at the Harrington Centre here, was more happy being in the city on the eve of Bengal`s greatest festival.

"A visit to Kumartuli, with all the semi-finished images of the goddess lined up, is always an experience. And I was there for hours two days back. Kumartuli is an integral part of Kolkata to be included in my future India series," he said.

About the significance of the title `Calcutta Kolkata..., Rai said it signifies the state of flux the city is in, the unending journey and how despite the change from the days of British Calcutta to Kolkata, its core remains as warm.

Rai, for whom Kolkata is part of his experiences with Manikda (Satyajit Ray) and Mother Teresa, however, is not ready to rate any of the images, previously clicked, as his best framed shot till date.

"For me, that is yet to come. A good photograph is that which combines mind and hand. I always look forward to clicking my best photo," he said.

Reminiscing about the classic black and white photo of Sonia and children with Indira Gandhi, Rai, who had been nominated by Henri Cartier-Bresson to join Magnum Photos in past, said on that day in 1971 he had spent the whole day with the Gandhi family for a photo series for India Today magazine.

Speaking about his five decade-long eventful career, Rai recalled his days with The Statesman, his first job, India Today, Time, Life, National Geographic and New York Times.

"The photos of children having died in Bhopal gas tragedy and agitating relatives demanding compensation also happened as I was present there at the moment. I think if you become one of them (the people) you can connect with the situation and the rest falls in place if you apply mind. You should know the technique but the technique should not get over you."

Asked about the film-versus-digital issue, Rai said there were many benefits of the digital image but one should not be techno-centric.