Seeped in sepia: Deep blacks, hanging shadows outline Jethalal’s pictures of Bollywood’s yesteryear stars

A hanging portrait of Raj Kapoor and Nargis Dutt greets you on the entrance wall, two life-size pictures of Madhuri Dixit smile at you from far finish; a collection of images with acquainted faces draw you inside as gentle melodies of yore enjoying on a hi fi transport you to an period passed by.

Sitaare Zameen Par, the continuing exhibition on the Kiran Nadar Museum of Artwork (KNMA) in Noida, brings to life the enigmatic Bollywood stars of the yesteryear by way of elegant black-and-white portraits shot by legendary photographer Jethalal H. Thakker. “Thakker, a partition refugee, arrange India Photograph Studio in 1948, in a spacious art-deco condo in Dadar (Mumbai),” informs Roobina Karode, director and chief curator of KNMA. A grasp of compositions in black and white and sepia tones, Jethalal, provides Roobina, created magic together with his silver gelatine prints, a know-how that he had mastered. He created photographs with deep blacks, hanging shadows, and natural textures which finally grew to become his model. About 120 of that are on show on the exhibition..

Dev Anand
| Photograph Credit score:
Jethalal H. Thakker

In a brand new mild

The exhibition presents legendary actors of the 50s and 60s in avatars we could have by no means seen them in. {A photograph} of Meena Kumari, who was in any other case perceived as quiet, critical, and guarded, reveals her as a younger girl in a sensous costume with glistening eyes, and a playful expression. An image of actor Raaj Kumar, recognized for his robust characters, presents him as a mild lover in a heat embrace with co-star Nimmi (Nawab Bano); one other one, of Mithun Chakraborty, recognized for his versatility and confidence, portrays an harmless younger man who had simply landed in Mumbai on the lookout for work. “Mithun obtained his first portfolio shot by Thakker on the premise of which he obtained admitted to FTII, Pune. The remainder, as we all know, is historical past,” says Roobina. “In a single sense,” she provides, “all these photographs showcase the religion the celebs entrusted within the photographer — in portraying the essence of an emotion as embedded in a pose.”

The feelings are palpable in all photos and one can not however take one’s eyes off the wall that shows 9 portraits of the preferred heroines of the time — Sadhana, Meena Kumari, Vyjayanthimala, and Rajashree to call a couple of — every telling her personal story. One other wall, devoted totally to Nargis (Jethalal was particularly near the Dutts), portrays her versatility and vivaciousness. The blow-ups of Madhuri Dixit, the one up to date face right here, mix in seamlessly with these of her seniors — because of related lighting, costumes, and make-up. Using lighting, considered one of Jethalal’s trademark, is clear in each portrait with shadows standing out as a lot as the sunshine.

Past the celebs

Jethalal’s work, nonetheless, was not confined to superstars alone. We see spectacular portraits of character artistes, administrators, villains, music administrators and singers. A whole part showcases stills from larger-than-life movie units, one other replicates Jethalal’s studio in Mumbai (now run by his son Vimal Thakker), and a brief documentary that performs on a headphone-enabled display screen, offers a deep perception into the world of the artiste’s pictures.

Raaj Kumar and Rehana

Raaj Kumar and Rehana
| Photograph Credit score:
Jethalal H. Thakker

“It also needs to be famous that the true focus of the exhibition is just not these stars as such, however the silent labour and affected person funding of Jethalal behind all stardom and glamour,” highlights Roobina. The exhibition brings out this aspect with elaborate notes on his methods that highlights how he used cigarette smoke and lamp soot to create dreamy backgrounds and changed flash with candles and pure mild. Virtually all photos have been taken from a single damaging, one other approach he mastered. The celebs, it’s stated, waited patiently, whereas he set the right shot, typically even for hours.This effort is seen in every image — be it the extreme portraits of villains like Jeevan, Pran, and Anwar Hussain or the life-like image of Kishore Kumar amongst musicians like Naushad, Mukesh and Talat Mahmood, and to not neglect the show-stopping portrait of Salim Khan as a dapper younger man, far faraway from his picture of a legendary screenwriter right this moment.

For a different viewers

The pictures straddle between the sensibilities of modernist aspirations whereas retaining the inherent nuances of a populist visible medium, like cinema. There are a number of photos of actors from completely different generations on show — from Bharat Bhushan and Dev Anand to Shashi Kapoor and Meena Kumari.


| Photograph Credit score:
Jethalal H. Thakker

This range and number of topics fascinate a number of generations of audiences too — from those that have seen the actors of their prime to those that are discovering them solely now. “The older era has embraced the exhibition and the youthful era is these pictures not simply as historic objects however as portraits of superb personalities,” says Roobina. “We hope that this present will familiarise the younger with the persona of those stars and encourage them to discover the cinema of the Fifties and Sixties,” she concludes.

Sitare Zameen Par is on show at Kiran Nadar Museum of Arts, in Noida till April 30.

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