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Updated: November 10, 2012 17:18 IST

Delhi, once upon a time

SWATI DAFTUAR
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On a windy day outside Humayun's tomb, Delhi 1976. Photo: Raghu Rai
On a windy day outside Humayun's tomb, Delhi 1976. Photo: Raghu Rai

With some never-seen-before images, Raghu Rai’s latest show captures the rich tapestry of life in the capital.

Delhi has been a constantly shifting landscape from the very beginning, witnessing transformations big and small, accommodating changes that transform it from an aesthetically charming city to the urban jungle it is today.

Acclaimed photographer Raghu Rai’s latest exhibition — India Images: Delhi…That Was — captures the Delhi that no longer exists with iconic images portraying the city as it was when Rai began his career.

The exhibition, put together by Ojas Art, is special also because it includes photographs that have never been published before.

With as many as 40 images from Rai’s archive, the images on display span various subjects through which Rai captures the rich tapestry of life in Delhi. So from the early morning view of the Yamuna to the Jantar Mantar in the afternoon; a silent Qutab Minar to the majestic Humayun’s tomb, Rai’s never-seen-before images are a visual treat.

Rai says that Delhi has changed dramatically, with the early city completely gone. “The pictures are undoubtedly important because they are historical images. They can be used for reference by those who want to study changes in the landscape, demographics and social contours of Delhi.”

Rai’s own discomfort with the changes in the name of development is clearly visible. The photographer believes that powerful builders have been allowed to run wild, with nary a thought about aesthetics. “This is nothing but directionless urbanisation. Delhi has seen exponential growth in recent times but our precious heritage edifices, greenery and forest areas should not have been tampered with.”

The images date back to the 1960s and give art collectors a chance to not just glimpse but also acquire some of Raghu Rai’s most important works. This entire solo exhibition is an extended edition, a big first in the evolving field of Indian photography.

Striking a balance between limited editions and open editions, an extended edition is Ojas Art’s way of keeping the collection limited but not too small and bringing down the prices significantly.

Simply put, it will allow the collection process to be more democratic while also enriching collectors with the best images, which they may have not acquired otherwise.

Bottomline: They are historical images and can be used by those who want to study changes in the landscape, demographics and social contours of Delhi.

India Images: Delhi… that was

Where:  Ojas Art, 1AQ, Qutab Minar Main Roundabout,

When: Till December 9 (closed on Mondays).

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