Photographer Nemai Ghosh, best-known for his work involving Satyajit Ray, died in Kolkata, Times of India reported. He was 86 years old, and was suffering from age-related complications, Anandbazar Patrika said.
Described by Ray as “a sort of [James] Boswell with a camera than a pen”, Ghosh’s work covered the making of Ray’s films for over three decades, as well as theatre in Bengal, Indian artists and tribes, and his hometown, Kolkata.
Ghosh’s initiation into professional photography began after visiting Burdwan in West Bengal, when Ray was shooting Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (1969). On seeing his photographs, clicked with a second-hand camera purchased from a friend, Ray was impressed. In an interview to National Herald in 2019, Ghosh recalled Ray saying, “You have shot them exactly the way I would have. You have got the same angles.”
Ray invited Ghosh to his sets. The association endured until Ray’s final film, Agantuk (1991), and yielded over a lakh photographs of the multi-hyphenate director and his work.
Apart from documenting Ray and his films, Ghosh also shot the making of Ritwik Ghatak’s Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (1974), Mrinal Sen’s Interview (1970), Calcutta 71 (1972) and Ek Adhuri Kahani (1971), Gautam Ghose’s Paar (1984), and MS Sathyu’s Ijjodu (2010).
“I am choosy about film assignments because I insist on reading the entire script of a film before accepting the work,” Ghosh once said. “I do this because I work hard to sustain the high standards Ray helped me establish.”
A theatre enthusiast, Ghosh extensively photographed Bengali theatre and its stalwarts, including Utpal Dutt, Tripti Mitra, Badal Sircar, and Shombu Mitra. These photos can be found his book Dramatic Moments: Photographs and Memories of Calcutta Theatre from the Sixties to the Nineties (2000).
Ghosh also tracked several Indian painters and artists, such as Jamini Roy, Ramkinker Baij and Benodebehari Mukherjee. Some of these images were published in the 2007 book Faces of Indian Art: Through the Lens of Nemai Ghosh. He photographed locals and tribes across India, from Bastar, Chhattisgarh to Kutch, Gujarat, among others.