Sep 20, 2018

The Beatles in India

Vasundhara Rathi
The Hindu
SEPTEMBER 19, 2018

Canadian filmmaker and photographer Paul Saltzman will showcase his photographs of the time the fab four spent in Rishikesh

It was in the year 1968 when the Beatles were spending time away from the limelight, to learn and practice transcendental meditation by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It was by pure chance that budding photographer and filmmaker Paul Saltzman stumbled upon the Beatles living in an ashram in Rishikesh, when he’d actually arrived there to mend his broken heart through the medium of meditation.

Speaking to The Hindu , Saltzman recalls, “I stopped thinking of them as The Beatles within 30 seconds of meeting and talking to them. Kind of magically, the Beatles went away and they were just these people I was sitting with. I never even thought of asking for a picture or autographs! For a week, we were buddies. I could’ve taken lots of fun photos, but I asked each of them privately, if they’d mind me taking pictures and they said, “Go right ahead!””

Cultural legacy
After spending 11 days at the ashram, Saltzman went back to Toronto, published a few photographs of the renowned musicians, wrote an article about meditation and put away the pictures in a cardboard box. Thirty years later, it was his daughter, Devyani, a Beatles’ fan, who made him dig up those old prints, which eventually featured in Saltzman’s book, The Beatles In India.

Avid Learning Institute, Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai and ICIA Gallery will be hosting an exhibition of the photographs and a conversation on ‘Beatlemania:Capturing Subcultures through the Lens’ between the filmmaker and photographer and art critic and curator Girish Shahane.
About the talk Shahane said, “It will be about how he came to Rishikesh, his interactions with the Beatles, the life of the photographs after he’d taken them and how India became important in a particular way to the world. The cultural aspect of Indian history became important to the hippie movement and the legacy of that movement in the present time. The major impact of the Beatles on India was through their interest in India, which then became an interest that many of their fans shared. The important thing is what the Beatles did for India in terms of its connection with the rest of the world.”
Documenting culture
Saltzman also said, “We will talk very broadly about the concept of photography documenting subcultures. I didn’t set out to document anything [in 1968]. I was not a photographer. I was starting to be a filmmaker but I was at the very beginning of my career. For me, photography and filmmaking has always been about experiencing what I’m in the middle of. My love of taking pictures and making movies is really about human being as opposed to subcultures. ‘Documenting subcultures’ is what somebody can label it, in retrospect.

Some people do that brilliantly, filmmakers and photographers, who specifically want to do document for a purpose but that’s not my way. My passion is to become more conscious as a photographer and filmmaker, to become more compassionate, to have greater empathy and not just for others, but for myself.”
The Beatles in India will be on exhibition from this evening until September 22 at ICIA Gallery, Kala Ghoda ; this evening attend a talk between Paul Saltzman and Girish Shahane at 6 p.m. at the same venue.

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