The transformation of Delhi from an aesthetically constructed city to an urban jungle has left many old residents disappointed and aggrieved. One of them is the widely acclaimed photographer Raghu Rai who has lived and worked as a photo-journalist in the city for decades.
Now Raghu Rai’s portrayal of the city as it existed when he made a foray into this creative line will be displayed at a month-long exhibition at Ojas Art near the Qutab Minar main roundabout here beginning November 2.
The exhibits, including Rai’s iconic black-and-white and coloured images, cover divergent subjects and, more importantly, the Delhi which no longer exists.
So, from an early morning Yamuna view to the ancient Jantar Mantar in the afternoon and a silent Qutab Minar to the majestic stance of Humayun’s tomb, the never-seen-before images of Rai will be a visual treat for the ubiquitous art collector.
Raghu Rai says the exhibition will be a special one because it will feature photographs which have never previously been published. “Delhi has changed dramatically. It will not be an exaggeration to say that Delhi of the earlier era is simply non-existential. The pictures are undoubtedly important because they are historical images. They can be used for reference purpose by those who want to study changes in the landscape, demographics and social contours of Delhi.”
Pained by the ugly changes taking place in the city in the name of development, Raghu Rai is disturbed by the urbanisation of villages around Delhi. “Villages are fast losing their identity. Even our heritage sites have not been spared. The landscape around Qutab Minar and Humayun Tomb has changed so much that these sites do not look the same from a distance. Unauthorised colonies which mushroomed illegally have been legitimised.”
The senior photographer says the political masters have allowed the powerful builders to construct anything without sparing a thought to 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. Unfortunately those who have done mindless encroachment in the forest areas and agricultural lands have been given legal sanctity.”
Blaming vote bank politics for the chaos prevailing in the Lutyens’ city, Raghu Rai says migrants have succeeded in living in the city by greasing the palm of the men in khaki and government employees.
“Delhi was beautifully constructed by the Mughals. The majestic Mughal Delhi or the Walled City was constructed with a lot of care and compassion for the inhabitants. There was magic in the earlier houses. But now we see swanky buildings which are expressionless. Somehow the magic in them is missing.”
Some of the best images captured by the magic lens of Raghu Rai to be displayed at “India Images: Delhi…. that was by Raghu Rai in Extended Edition” seek to promote the art of photography.