I cannot recall when I was first introduced to Prabhuddha Dasgupta’s work. I started photography quite late in my life but a significant time of my early days went in savoring the visuals, spread in film, fashion and art related magazines. The concept and transformation of an idea on the glossy pages was always appealing but beyond that was the imagination of the artist that sparked all the senses. At that time, I remember buying international magazines from the Sunday book market in Chandni Chowk.
Few years ago I stumbled on Prabhuddha Dasgupta’s work while looking for Indian Photographers. There were some familiar photographs and some to be discovered . . . fashion, art and storytelling, all merged into one. It took me back again to the old times of flipping the Vogue pages.
Prabuddha Dasgupta was a self-taught photographer. How does one write a tribute for an accomplished photographer whose work is best defined as simple, progressive and fashionable. I feel my best efforts will still be cursory. I never had a chance to meet him or attend any of his workshops but when I see his photographs, as always it evoked “ I wish I could be that simple”. Arriving at simplicity is not an easy process. It is an idea that is most difficult to practice in this cluttered world, an idea that is very often confronted by stereotypes, the constant cues to conform and the risk of being out of fashion. Simplicity is often misinterpreted as being naïve or uninformed. Through his work, Prabhuddha created new aesthetics of beauty, eliminating the reverence and keeping it unpretentious.
Individual sensibility is what creates footprint and Prabuddha’s work certainly reflected the same. The faith in ones sensibility and the longing to nurture the same would have been a constant effort.
I have been always intrigued and inspired by the ‘longing’ series. For me it represents a timeless visual memoir. There is no start, no end. It is so simple and effortless without any frills and fancies telling a personal and intimate story. The beauty of it lies in not glorifying any moment but to celebrate its very existence. A personal truth portrayed without any fear. When we fail to see the beauty in everyday life, imagination ceases to exist. To seek an idea or create something extraordinary, one need not go too far. Though as a woman the constant urge is to take the next leap and continuously explore what Prabuddha’s defined as portraits of urban Indian women.
As a documentary photographer and someone who had consciously stayed away from fashion photography, Prabuddha’s work often urged me to ask myself “ Why not ”. Many a times for a viewer, the photograph in itself does not make sense but still has the ability to capture one’s attention. Prabhuddha Dasgupta’s work reflects his personal vision that redefines all the boundaries or perhaps even frees them from it.
There have been times during the early days of photography when I was more carefree and experimental. When passion turns to profession, sometimes it takes away the very joy and the enthusiasm with which one started it in the first place. Prabhuddha Dasgupta’s work has often provided the spur and the faith in those not so good times and still continues to do so.
Credits – Thanks Suman Nag, Amandeep Sandhu, Shubhra Narang, Reena Sarin and Priya Gaba for your inputs and support. Thanks Sayan Bhattacharya, Asst. Editor Kindle Magazine for giving me an opportunity to write this.