Photos: Nandita Raman’s portraits capture India’s single-screen cinemas

Nandita Raman’s timeless portraits of derelict single screen cinemas capture a sense of nostalgia and a passage of time revealing something personal about these abandoned spaces. Titled ‘Cinema Play House’, George Eastman Museum in New York, the world’s oldest museum of photography is currently hosting this photographic collection, until May 13, 2018.

Updated On Dec 07, 2017 12:21 PM IST 9 Photos
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Untitled #1 (Prabhat), 2009. Inkjet print. While many single-screen cinemas have succumbed to modern consumerism, a fascination for the former led visual artist Nandita Raman to look back at her childhood in Varanasi, where she spent time at Chitra Talkies -- the city’s first single-screen cinema in Varanasi. George Eastman Museum in New York, the world’s oldest museum of photography is currently hosting her photographic work, until May 13. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Untitled #1 (Prabhat), 2009. Inkjet print. While many single-screen cinemas have succumbed to modern consumerism, a fascination for the former led visual artist Nandita Raman to look back at her childhood in Varanasi, where she spent time at Chitra Talkies -- the city’s first single-screen cinema in Varanasi. George Eastman Museum in New York, the world’s oldest museum of photography is currently hosting her photographic work, until May 13. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Updated on Dec 07, 2017 12:21 PM IST
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Untitled #16 (Prabhat), 2009. Inkjet Print. Raman’s photographs are intricately detailed, almost an anthropological study of life inside desolate cinemas. Each element weaves its own story within the larger frame, revealing something personal about the space and its dwellings. It observes the passage of time in society, manifested through simple changes inside the cinemas. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Untitled #16 (Prabhat), 2009. Inkjet Print. Raman’s photographs are intricately detailed, almost an anthropological study of life inside desolate cinemas. Each element weaves its own story within the larger frame, revealing something personal about the space and its dwellings. It observes the passage of time in society, manifested through simple changes inside the cinemas. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Updated on Dec 07, 2017 12:21 PM IST
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Untitled #3 (Liberty), 2009. Inkjet Print. Raman decided to take up single screen cinemas as her photographic endeavour after visiting Varanasi in 2006 and was shocked by the emptiness of the once familiar space. Driven by a nostalgic impulse, that was her “moment of commitment.” In subsequent years, she travelled to Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai to further explore and discover single-screen cinemas. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Untitled #3 (Liberty), 2009. Inkjet Print. Raman decided to take up single screen cinemas as her photographic endeavour after visiting Varanasi in 2006 and was shocked by the emptiness of the once familiar space. Driven by a nostalgic impulse, that was her “moment of commitment.” In subsequent years, she travelled to Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai to further explore and discover single-screen cinemas. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Updated on Dec 07, 2017 12:21 PM IST
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Untitled #5 (Natraj), 2009. Inkjet Print. Inside the Natraj theatre in Varanasi, Raman photographed rows of seats, where one stands out for its odd, replaced upholstery, again marking the struggle for the old to hold its own against the new and ultimately revealing the passage of time. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Untitled #5 (Natraj), 2009. Inkjet Print. Inside the Natraj theatre in Varanasi, Raman photographed rows of seats, where one stands out for its odd, replaced upholstery, again marking the struggle for the old to hold its own against the new and ultimately revealing the passage of time. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Updated on Dec 07, 2017 12:21 PM IST
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Untitled #7 (Prabhat), 2009. Among the photographs on show, there are only a handful of human portraits and Raman is mindful of this. For her it was the space that led to revelations and she felt that portraits may perhaps reduce the expression of multifaceted personalities that each of them had. However, she spent at least two-three days at each cinema meeting people before getting down to photographing the space. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Untitled #7 (Prabhat), 2009. Among the photographs on show, there are only a handful of human portraits and Raman is mindful of this. For her it was the space that led to revelations and she felt that portraits may perhaps reduce the expression of multifaceted personalities that each of them had. However, she spent at least two-three days at each cinema meeting people before getting down to photographing the space. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Updated on Dec 07, 2017 12:21 PM IST
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Untitled #17 (Moti), 2009. Inkjet Print. International photographers —Fazal Sheikh, Robert Polidori and Kenro Izu’s different styles and technical approaches helped her locate a photographic medium for her execution. The deliberation of large-format photography lent itself well to old cinemas and let her observe more about the spaces and their individual quirks. Moreover the bigger negatives on a large format would record more detail and this was remarkable for Raman. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Untitled #17 (Moti), 2009. Inkjet Print. International photographers —Fazal Sheikh, Robert Polidori and Kenro Izu’s different styles and technical approaches helped her locate a photographic medium for her execution. The deliberation of large-format photography lent itself well to old cinemas and let her observe more about the spaces and their individual quirks. Moreover the bigger negatives on a large format would record more detail and this was remarkable for Raman. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Updated on Dec 07, 2017 12:21 PM IST
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Untitled #30 (Vijaya Talkies), 2007. Inkjet Print. Growing up in Varanasi fed her visual references as an artist —the city’s colourful lanes, aesthetic and nightouts to attend classical music concerts lent her a childhood unlike most others. “It was a most fascinating place for a child,” she recalls. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Untitled #30 (Vijaya Talkies), 2007. Inkjet Print. Growing up in Varanasi fed her visual references as an artist —the city’s colourful lanes, aesthetic and nightouts to attend classical music concerts lent her a childhood unlike most others. “It was a most fascinating place for a child,” she recalls. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Updated on Dec 07, 2017 12:21 PM IST
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Untitled #9 (Regal), 2009. Inkjet Print. At the George Eastman Museum, Raman, in collaboration with Shrinkhla Agrawal, has put together a playlist of old Hindi film songs like Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechara and Kajra Mohabbat Wala, which serve as background music to the show to evoke a sense of performance that the big screen offers and also to remember an era of Bollywood that once thrived in these dilapidated buildings. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Untitled #9 (Regal), 2009. Inkjet Print. At the George Eastman Museum, Raman, in collaboration with Shrinkhla Agrawal, has put together a playlist of old Hindi film songs like Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechara and Kajra Mohabbat Wala, which serve as background music to the show to evoke a sense of performance that the big screen offers and also to remember an era of Bollywood that once thrived in these dilapidated buildings. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Updated on Dec 07, 2017 12:21 PM IST
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Untitled #32 (Jai), 2007. Inkjet Print. Raman’s detailed gaze recreates a reference for what once was and how the politics of the time shaped films that were made. Thus, her work is not just a collection of photographs of derelict cinemas and projection rooms but rather a statement on the various histories time carries with its passage. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Untitled #32 (Jai), 2007. Inkjet Print. Raman’s detailed gaze recreates a reference for what once was and how the politics of the time shaped films that were made. Thus, her work is not just a collection of photographs of derelict cinemas and projection rooms but rather a statement on the various histories time carries with its passage. (Courtesy Nandita Raman and sepiaEYE)

Updated on Dec 07, 2017 12:21 PM IST
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