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It is France; It is India! New book celebrates both countries through powerful photographs

Top Indian photographer Raghu Rai has collaborated with French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain to bring out the book, ‘To France in India’.

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New Delhi: ‘To France in India’, a book capturing both countries through evocative stills by French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain and veteran photographer Raghu Rai was released Tuesday.

Accompanying the book launch was an exhibition that offered glimpses into their work in the last two years.

Speaking at the event in Alliance Française, Delhi, both authors showed mutual admiration for each other’s work and shared anecdotes of how the book was conceived.

“Emmanuel is a diplomat and a gentleman, a very difficult combo… I loved the way he was so passionately involved and what a nasty bull he was! More difficult than a professional photographer,” Rai said.

Ambassador of France to India | Satendra Singh | ThePrint

Emmanuel Lenain was all praise for Rai who he had approached two years ago for the project.

“It was (working with Rai) a wonderful process. I hope I inspired him because he inspires me a lot,” he said about their joint venture.

The exhibition has two sections, one that displayed Rai’s vision of France and the other centering on Lenain’s monochrome India.

“What strikes me is diversity in this country and that is the aspect I try to capture. I have worked nights and weekends because it’s my passion,” Lenain told ThePrint about his subjects and love for India.

For Rai, France was a natural canvas as he considered his travels to the country a “pilgrimage” since that is where the first camera was invented.

Veteran photographer Raghu Rai | | Satendra Singh | ThePrint

“He was shooting India and I have been to France many times so I said let’s do it,” Rai said, adding, he was mindful of the fact that France was the country that “revolutionised photography”.

Rai further explained how they differently approached emotions and themes in their visuals.

“My subjects are all vitality, magic and visual poetry of their country. When people see his pictures, they tell me how poor we look,” Rai said, laughing.

The event saw well-known photographers, diplomats, politicians and artists come together to celebrate the book. Member of Parliament Mahua Moitra, journalist Madhu Trehan, Brazil’s ambassador Andre Aranha Correa Do Lago, National Gallery of Modern Art director Adwaita Gadanayak were some of the prominent names that were in attendance.

MP Mahua Moitra at the event | | Satendra Singh | ThePrint

Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) chairman Sunil Sethi, who wanted to buy Lenain’s photograph on the Indian phenomenon “jugaad”, was impressed by his work.

“Everybody knows Raghu Rai and we have been fans since the beginning, but this time, I worked closely with Emmanuel Lenain. One will not come here and take so many photographs unless one loves India. They (photographers) notice so many things that we miss out in our everyday lives.”


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