The Beatles in India — a book authored by Canadian filmmaker and photographer Paul Saltzman — is a result of a chance meeting between the iconic rock band and Saltzman in the most unlikely of places — an ashram in Rishikesh.
In 1968, The Beatles took a little time off to learn transcendental meditation in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh. Being the most popular rock band in the world can take quite a toll on you. At the same time, Saltzman too found himself in the ashram while trying to nurse his broken heart.
Saltzman remembers this meeting of a lifetime like it happened yesterday. “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!”” recalls Saltzman while speaking with The Hindu.
30 years later, the photographs resurfaced thanks to Saltzman’s daughter Devyani’s insistence. ‘Beatlemania: Capturing Subcultures through the Lens’ is a joint initiative by Avid Learning Institute, Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai and ICIA Gallery. The photo exhibition will be followed by a discussion between Saltzman and curator Girish Shahane, which traces Saltzman’s journey from when he first interacted with The Beatles to the time he was inspired to write a book about them. The exhibition is also a way to shed light on The Beatles’ contribution towards positioning India a certain way and subsequently highlighting the evolution of the hippie culture in the country.
“We will talk very broadly about the concept of photography documenting subcultures. 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 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,” said Saltzman while speaking about the project.
Saltzman and Shahane’s session was scheduled for September 19. But you can still view The Beatles in India at CIA Gallery, Kala Ghoda till September 22.
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