A hauntingly intense photograph of actress Madhubala along with equally beautiful vintage portraits of Bollywood icons like Dev Anand, Nargis, Pran and others are available at the United Art Fair (UAF) here. At the second edition of the Fair, which opened to a VIP preview here on September 14, there is a good dose of tinsel town magic with artists and photographers finding their muse in the country's film industry. Wearing a polka dot top and a half eaten apple in one hand, a photograph of actress Nutan staring at the camera with an open faced grin, has been priced at Rs 1 lakh, in the constellation of timeless photographs clicked by the late Jethalal H Thakker. Thakker, came from Karachi after Partition and set up the India Photo Studio in Mumbai, which soon became a favourite amongst movie stars for Thakker's "beautifully lit portraits which were intensely moody."
"The stars would come and hang out in the studio and try out costumes and props which were not related to any movie. These collaborations between the photographer and the stars resulted in stunning images of the Bombay screen legends, which are also a terrific body of work exemplifying the grand studio-portrait style of the time," says Ram Rahman, one of the five curators of the UAF. The limited edition archival photoprints in chiaroscurist lighting by Thakker are priced at Rs 1,00,000 each.
In another section of the Fair, spread across four halls at the Pragati Maidan venue, an entire wall is covered with still photographs of the "travelling truck cinemas" found mostly in the rural areas of the country. The photographs clicked by filmmaker Dev Benegal, is part of research for his film "Road" that starred Abhay Deol and premiered at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival. Modified trucks that house cinema projectors and serves as a projection room often set up make-shift theatres in villages. Bengal travelled for a year with a transient cinema troupe that showcased different films in rural Rajasthan villages.