Pablo Bartholomew's Portraits Of These Famous People As Young Actors Are Vintage Gold

25/01/2016 8:02 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Pablo Bartholomew

You have seen them in several places and in several roles. In the Parliament, as 'Gabbar', as the 'Sanskari babuji', as Miss India. But, you may not have have seen them like this before.

Photographer Pablo Bartholomew’s 60/60--a show that is a collection of his candid photographs of artistes in the 70s and 80s-- is a celebration of memory. "It shows what people were like in their younger avatar," Bartholomew told HuffPost India.

The series include actress Nafisa Ali looking into the camera, sucking her fingers, Shashi Tharoor playing Anthony to Mira Nair’s Cleopatra in a play, a fashionably dressed Alok Nath in rousing form in his theatre days, Smita Patil chilling in Bartholomew’s Bombay flat, playing with his typewriter--among others.

When Bartholomew decided to do the show, he didn't realise it would have resonance with the younger people. "All I knew was it would be fun to expose people and put it up in a show," he said.

But, the celebrated photographer known for his work on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the Emergency and its aftermath and the Babri Masjid demolition, wanted to do this particular show for a very long time. But, he couldn't. Talks were initiated with exhibitors, but it always failed.

"I have a history of failing," Bartholomew says with a wry laugh.

He then goes on to list his failures.

Two years ago, Bartholomew wanted to showcase his photographs of Northeast tribes, which was a tribute to Prabuddha Dasgupta. But, Delhi photo festival (DPF) rejected his photos. Finally, India International Centre decided to host the show. Incidentally, the show coincided with the duration of DPF. "It was very well received," he said.

Bartholomew says "rejection kind of propels" him.

The show 60/60 being hosted from January 23 till February 20 at Sakshi Gallery in Colaba, is also a result of those several rejections.

Talking about the show, Bartholomew says that none of these were photographed as an assignment. "Sometimes they were not even aware i was taking a photo," he said. "This was a quiet look at the people," he added.

So, why is it called 60/60?

It has a pretty simple explanation. Sixty, because Bartholomew just turned sixty. And the exhibition includes photographs of sixty people. "Also, it sort of sounds sexy, I think," he said.

Asked how the response has been from the people who have been photographed, Bartholomew shared the conversation he had with Anupam Kher. When Bartholomew told Kher that he has this photograph of his, the actor got really excited. Kher asked me to send the image, so that he can tweet it. He wanted to show off his 6 packs!

Take a look at some of the photographs here:

photo 1

Members of the Theater action group rehearsing Oedipus directed by Barry John, New Dellhi, 1982

In the Photo: Top Centre in editor Bharat Kapur, the three women below from left to right are Ein Lal, Ilushyin Dubey and the banker Naina Lal Kidwai. Centre in the bottom is Annie Thomas.

photo 2

Poet Adil Jussawalla, Bombay, 1980

photo 3

Anupam Kher in his hostel room, Chandigrah, 1974.

photo 4

Activist Aruna Roy, New Delhi, 1974. Roy was a student of my mother Rati Bartholomew and seminal influence on me when her husband Bunker Roy and their Social Work and Research Centre (SWRC) in Tilonia took me in when I had just left school. Their work with photographic processes and encouraging villagers to make their own filmstrips was revolutionary. Today I see the NGO world and a lot of it is a laugh.

photo 5

Artist Eruch Hakim, New Delhi, 1975.

photo 6

Mira Nair and Shashi Tharoor as Anthony and Cleopatra, New Delhi, 1975.

Shashi was in St Stephen’s; Mira was in Miranda House. The two colleges had a collaboration. Whenever Stephen’s would need women actors, they’d get them from Miranda House; whenever MH would need male actors, they’d come from Stephen’s. Both Mira and Shashi would have been in the early twenties at the time; I must have been 19 or 20. This was a college production of Antony and Cleopatra. Mira acted then; the directing came much later. In the background is Susan Visvanathan, a reputed social anthropologist.

photo 7

Actress and former Miss India Nafisa Ali, Bombay, 1980

photo 8

Designer Rajiv Sethi in his Shanker Market office, New Delhi, 1976.

photo 9

Curator, activist, photographer Ram Rahman, New Delhi, 1979.

photo 10

Actor Sayeed Jaffrey relaxes at the Searock Hotel, Bombay, 1981.

photo 11

Actress Shabana Azmi visits the dancing girls quarters on G.B. Road, Delhi, 1980.

This was shot in the red light area of Delhi. I think, at the time, she was working on a film that needed her to do some research on prostitutes. Shekhar Kapur, not in the frame, was there, too.

photo 12

Designer Shona Ray at her residence, New Delhi, 1974.

Shona was a great spirit and such a strong personality. I remember she had had breast surgery for cancer recently and one monsoon afternoon we were walking near her house in Nizamuddin East and it started pouring. We ran to tale shelter under some trees but were drenched. As I lit a cigarette, Shona reached under her blouse and yanked out the sponge falsie she used to wear after the surgery and squeezed the water out of it. We both looked at each other and couldn’t stop laughing.

photo 13

Shobha De with adman Mohamad Khan at Nadish Naoroji's wedding reception, Bombay, 1980.

photo 14

Actress Smita Patil in Bartholomew's room in Bombay, 1980.

photo 15

Victor Banerjee in his dressing room on the sets of Shatranj Ke Khiladi, directed by Satyajit Ray, Calcutta, 1976.

photo 16

Actor Alok Nath 42 years later in front of his photograph with actress Mona Chawla in Harold Pinters, Lovers directed by Feisal Alkazi for the theatre group Ruchika of which I was a founding member. Delhi, 1974. In the photo also are seen Maya Rao in Bertolt Brechts Mother, directed by Anuradha Kapur in a Miranda House production of the first Hindi translation of the play by Balraj Pandit. and Om Puri in a Kabuki play when he was a student at the National School of Drama both Delhi, circa 1975.

tinu anand

Actor Tinnu Anand with his wife Pushi point to himself 4 decades ago.I worked on many of Tinnu’s film including Shahenshah.

In the next photograph is the poet, writer Manohar Shetty who now lines with his wife Devika Sequira in Goa and both of them I worked at the Sunday Standard when Dom Moraes was the editor.

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