Visual tribute to musicians Gangubai Hangal, Ravi Shankar and others

  • Henna Rakheja, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 09, 2016 14:49 IST
The legendary Indian singer Gangubai Hangal framed forever in this black and white photograph by artist Shobha Deepak Singh. (Shobha Deepak Singh)

Holding the flute, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia turns his head and gives a dimpled-smile. While ­playing the shehnai, Ustad Bismillah Khan tilts his head in a peculiar fashion, ­retaining a calm expression on his face.

Their moods and ­expressions, along with a slice of their renditions, are captured in photographs clicked by artist Shobha Deepak Singh. These photos have been displayed at an ongoing exhibition — Musicscapes - The Multiple Emotions of Indian Music. The photographs have also been featured in a book, which completes Singh’s ­trilogy.

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“In the past, I have compiled my photographs of dancers and theatre artists. This time, I was clear to choose musicians, but to shortlist 300 photographs from the three hundred ­thousand photographs that I had clicked, was a daunting task,” says Singh, who has been taking photographs since three decades.

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The many moods and expressions of legendary Indian musicians such as Gangubai Hangal, Ustad Bismillah Khan and many more come alive in black and white photographs by artist Shobha Deepak Singh. Musicians (clockwise from top left) Ashwini Bhide, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Kaushiki Chakravarti, Abdul Rashid Khan, Hariprasad Chaurasia and Biswajit Roy Chowdhury as captured by Shobha Deepak Singh. (Shobha Deepak SIngh)

One who has heard these artists play live, is sure to relate to the their demeanour through the pictures. And those who haven’t attended their ­concerts, can revel in the overt expressions that Singh manages to capture when the artists were immersed in their performance. Singh says, “Former musicians used to show a lot of ­emotions while performing. Higher the scale they attempted, the more intense expression was ­visible on their faces.”

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“At times, the musical instrument such as the tanpura took so much space in the frame that I used to be amazed,” she adds. In the book, she has included pictures of 44 ­musicians while the exhibition will feature 43 of them. The photos include names such as Amjad Ali Khan, Anoushka Shankar and Zakir Hussain. “I made it a point to have pictures of those artists who have left us,” says Singh.

The exhibition also features candid shots of artists during a conversation or while preparing backstage. “But these are in colour and will be projected in one section of the gallery. The photographs exhibited will be all black and white, as that is the best medium to show the musicians’ expressions,” Singh sums up.


WHAT: Musicscapes, photo exhibition

WHERE: India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road

ON TILL: April 14

TIMINGS: 11am to 8pm

Nearest Metro Station: Jor Bagh on Yellow Line

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Tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain has a captivating energy about him. (Shobha Deepak Singh)

Each artist has a peculiarity about him or her | With Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia it is his dimpled-smile while Shehnai great Ustad Bismillah Khan was known to tilt his head in a particular manner. (Shobha Deepak Singh)

Anoushka Shankar continues her famous father Pandit Ravi Shankar’s contribution with the sitar. (Shobha Deepak Singh)

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