Raghu Rai was born in the small village of Jhhang, now part of Pakistan. He took up photography in 1965, and the following year joined The Statesman newspaper as its chief photographer. Impressed by an exhibit of his work in Paris in 1971, Henri Cartier-Bresson nominated Rai to join Magnum Photos in 1977.
For Greenpeace, he has completed an in-depth documentary project on the chemical disaster at Bhopal in 1984, and on its ongoing effects on the lives of gas victims. Rai was awarded the Padmashree in 1971, one of India’s highest civilian awards ever given to a photographer. His photo essays have appeared in many of the world’s leading magazines and newspapers including TIME, LIFE, Geo, The New York Times, The Sunday Times, Newsweek, The Independent and The New Yorker. He has served three times on the jury of the World Press Photo and twice on the jury of UNESCO’s International Photo Contest.
An Unframed Portrait by Avani Rai
Avani Rai didn’t set out to make a film about her father, the famous photographer Raghu Rai. What she wanted was to get to know him better by observing him on one of his photo trips. In the film that she ended up making anyway, father and daughter travel together to the Indian state of Kashmir, where political unrest prevails and violence is commonplace. They photograph their surroundings and each other, in the meantime reflecting on their lives, politics and his craft, which is richly illustrated with material from Raghu Rai’s archive. The elder Rai started taking photos in the 1960s, and has now published more than 50 books. He is best known for his powerful series on the aftermath of the Bhopal toxic gas tragedy in 1984, Mother Teresa and Indira Gandhi. Avani films and photographs her father as he works—and as he instructs her on viewpoints and framing. In the process, the film becomes a portrait not only of a passionate photographer, but also of a father-daughter relationship in which the camera is a source of both connection and friction.
Production: Iikka Vehkalahti for IV Films
Executive producer: Anurag Kashyap, Gurmeet Sangha Rai
Co-production:CRCI India Pvt Ltd
Cinematography: Avani Rai
Panel Moderator: K. Hariharan
K. Hariharan is an Indian film director who has directed films in Tamil, Marathi and Hindi. He was the former director of L.V. Prasad Film and TV Academy, Chennai and currently he is the professor of Film Studies at Ashoka University. Born in Mumbai, Maharashtra, his father was the vice-president of Eastman Kodak. An alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Hariharan formed "Yukt Film Co-operative" in 1976 together with his batch mates to make an experimental film called Ghashiram Kotwal. Ezhavathu Manithan, his directorial debut in Tamil cinema, won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil and was nominated for Golden St. George (Best Film) at the Moscow International Film Festival.
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