“A god sent spy with a black and white camera”. M.T sir was right when he penned this about Punalur Rajan, the late veteran photographer who captured subtle emotions through his Rolleicord camera. His love for the subtleties of human emotions met fulfillment when he met the Sultan of Beypore. What started as an admiration towards the author of Balyakhalasakhi later blossomed into an unbreakable bond.
No one has ever taken as many profound pictures of Basheer as Rajan has. They aren’t just portraits but a glimpse of authenticity and a more candid Basheer, as he was someone who was very cautious of how he looked.
“Rajan has captured me so many times that my face has been worn out!”, Basheer would make a humorous remark with sitting under his mangosteen tree.
The relationship between Punalur Rajan and Basheer was more than that of a photographer and his muse. Basheer showed concern and brotherly affection for this graduate from Lumumba University (Moscow). So deep was Rajan’s love and admiration for the sultan that he even rejected an opportunity to work in Ramu Karyat’s movie, and several others. His distancing from fame and money for his art, for his muse, recalls the true definition of being an artist.
When one goes through the black and white photograph of literature legend Vaikom Mohammed Basheer, beside his radio, we are made to ponder and drool at the beauty of that moment. The writer who brings out the ‘complexities of subtlety’ himself being the ‘complexity of subtlety’. The portraits remind us of greek statues, that’s how beautiful they are.
There was only one time when Rajan didn’t look at Basheer through his lenses; it was when the legend passed away in 1994. Yet, Basheer lives through the timeless portraits of Rajan. Their friendship is something we all wish to cherish. It was two individuals sharing their art, sharing words of wisdom and opinions.
Apart from Basheer, he had captured other eminent personalities in Kerala like M.T Vasudevan Nair, Uroob, Thikkodiyan, K A Kodungallur, and more. However, as Rajan himself stated, none of those works were as good when compared to the portraits of Basheer as there were countless and natural.
When Basheer once said, “It could come in the form of Rajan too”, he would’ve meant that “Art could come in the form of Rajan too”.The veteran photographer has left us all to reunite with his muse, however, his aesthetics still mirrors the essence of the personalities he had captured.
Feature Image Courtesy: Manorama and Medium