Nemai Ghosh’s tall frame sits somewhat bent with the steel plate in his back, a remaining vestige of the physical toll of having been Satyajit Ray’s shadow from 1969 to 1991, when Ray shot his last frame. Ghosh sustained many falls in his pursuit of the perfect composition and his zeal to protect the camera rather than his back. The octogenarian’s memory is crammed with Ray and more Ray, having shot a humongous number of images of every kind—not just multiple shots of every frame that Ray captured on film, but also the visionary’s myriad frame by frame moods on and off the set.
In short, Ghosh lived his entire professional life to capture Ray and his work through his lens. So much so that it prompted the maestro to once ask him why he photographed quite that much; to which Ghosh replied, “I shoot because you shoot.” Ghosh didn’t just immortalise Ray’s leading ladies in their various moods, but also introduced at least two of them to Manik da (as Ray was fondly known to those close to him). Ghosh confesses he is plain helpless when it comes to choosing his favourite photo of Ray’s leading ladies, but here, he offers us a rare insight into the story behind the pictures: