Nemai Ghosh, Satyajit Ray’s ‘photo-biographer’, dead at 87 – art and culture

Eminent photographer Nemai Ghosh, better known as Satyajit Ray’s favourite photographer as he worked with the Oscar-winning filmmaker in most of his films, died at his residence in Kolkata on Wednesday morning.

He was 87 and survived by a son and a daughter. He was awarded Padma Shri in 2010.

Ghosh is most known for chronicling the life and works of Satyajit Ray through his lenses. Besides, he also worked with two other master auteur of Indian ‘new wave’ cinema – Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen.

“For close to 25 years, Nemai Ghosh has been assiduously photographing me in action and repose — a sort of (James) Boswell working with a camera rather than a pen,” Ray had written of Ghosh.

“He had been unwell for quite some time but had started recovering. On Tuesday evening, he suddenly stopped eating and then developed lung congestions. He died at around 10 am this morning. The doctor said he died of cardiac and respiratory failure,” his brother Chitta Ghosh said on Wednesday.

Ghosh’s son, who too is a photographer based in Mumbai, could not come to attend his father funeral because of the country-wide lockdown. Kolkata Police and the local administration helped the family with the cremation.

Ghosh started working with Ray from the iconic film Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (1969) and worked with him till Ray’s last film, Agantuk (1991).

Ghosh also worked with the legendary French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. “Through his visual gift, Nemai Ghosh allows us to be intimate with filmmaking, and to feel with great fidelity the drive, the alertness and the profundity of this giant of cinema in all his majestic stature,” Cartier-Bresson wrote in the foreword of Ghosh’s first book, ‘Satyajit Ray at 70’.

On Wednesday, after the news of his death spread, Ray-admirers took to social media to express condolences at the death of one whose name had become synonymous with Ray’s works.

“Legendary photographer Nemai Ghosh is no more. Learnt a lot from Sir. A still from Jana Aranya. This is what we call photography,” filmmaker Kamaleshar Mukherjee wrote on Facebook while sharing one of Ghose’s still photos from the set of a Satyajit Ray film.

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