This is an exhibition that offers viewers an experience akin to time travel, with an opportunity to compare and appreciate the perspectives of leading Indian photographers. Curated by photographer Mukesh Parpiani, ‘80 Masters of Indian Photography’ offers some of the best photos from the NCPA archives as well as an exhibition of books on photography and vintage cameras.

The Piramal Gallery — set up in 1988 — was envisioned as a venue for photo exhibitions. In the last 24 years, more than 500 photographers — both established and new names in the field — have held group and solo shows at the 3000 square feet gallery.

Memorable exhibitions at Piramal have included Raghu Rai’s collection on the Union Carbide tragedy in Bhopal, Raghubir Singh’s collection on Kumbha Mela, Ganga and Benares and Kolkata-based Nemai Ghosh’s work on Satyajit Ray and the city of Kolkata. Occasionally, photographers like Singh contributed some photos to the NCPA, which have been preserved in a specially maintained archive room next to the gallery.

This particular show offers black-and-white prints by T.S. Satyen, one of India’s earliest photojournalists whose work was published in Life, Time and The Illustrated Weekly of India. Satyen’s shots capture the elusive humanism of his vision and the shades of another era are rendered without sentimentality. His photos include black-and-white prints of a slightly idealised early morning scene in a North Indian landscape and a shot of young boys jumping into water. Jeetendra Arya’s photo shows Nehru and a young Indira on vacation in the hills. Among the prized collection is a sample of prints from the Raja Deen Dayal archive. A pioneering photographer whose career began in the mid-1870s as a commissioned photographer, he is known for his exquisite photos of colonial India and royal splendour. Ace performing arts photographer Avinash Pasricha is also represented with photos taken from NCPA’s music library.

Bottomline: Enter a world of black and white and grey

80 Masters of Indian Photography

Where: Piramal Art Gallery, NCPA, Mumbai

When: Till August 31

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