NEW DELHI – One of India’s most respected fashion photographers, Prabuddha Dasgupta, 58, passed away Sunday while he was at a photo shoot near Mumbai. A self-taught photographer, Dasgupta was known for his ground-breaking black and white imagery which established a new visual style for India’s emerging fashion scene in the Nineties.
His work was published in leading magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Marie-Claire, L’Officiel and Femina, among others. Dasgupta’s various awards and grants included the Yves Saint Laurent grant for photography which he received in 1991 while his photographs have been included in the collections of individuals and institutions such as Italy’s Museo Ken Damy, Brescia and Galleria Carla Sozzani, Milan. His work has also featured in international photo books including ‘Nudi’ (Motta Editore, Milan) and ‘India Now – New Photographic Visions’ (Textuel, Paris).
Leading Bollywood celebrities and fashion figures mourned his loss posting messages on Twitter. “Prabuddha and I first shot together 18 years ago… I had never seen myself as beautiful… until that day… through his lens. What a gifted man,” Bollywood actress and 1994 Miss Universe Sushmita Sen posted on her Twitter account alongwith some of her pictures taken by Dasgupta.
As fashion event Delhi Couture Week concluded Sunday, leading designer Manav Gangwani dedicated his show to Dasgupta. “Last year he was at my show and he wanted to shoot my collection. I am really sad that he is not amongst us. I think there is some uncanny connection that today on my show he is not here…. While rehearsing we were in tears,” Gangwani told a newspaper.
Challenging convention, Dasgupta became the first Indian photographer to publish a controversial collection of portraits and nudes of urban Indian women titled “Women” (Viking Books) in 1996. But he created a bigger furore with a 1995 ad he shot for an Indian shoe brand, Tuff Shoes. The black and white image featured leading male model Milind Soman with a python around his neck with his then girl-friend (also a top model), Madhu Sapre. Embracing each other in the nude, the couple only wore shoes. Women’s groups protested against the ad alleging it was obscene which also led to a long-drawn court battle.
Dasgupta stretched his creative boundaries with his celebrated 2000 book “Ladakh” which featured stunning landscape photography. This was followed by 2009’s “Edge of Faith”, featuring pictures of the western coastal state of Goa and its Catholic community. Dasgupta divided time between Goa and New Delhi. He was in a relationship with top model Lakshmi Menon, 30, who has done shows for Jean Paul Gaultier and Hermès including campaigns for the likes of Max Mara, Givenchy, H&M and Nordstrom, among others.