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Photojournalist Chandu Mhatre dead


Mumbai, June 13:

Globally published photojournalist Chandu Mhatre, who photographed major news stories of India for the past four decades, has died, his family said. He was 66.

pic: indianartcollectors.com
pic: indianartcollectors.com

Mhatre died of a cardiac arrest at his home in Juhu on Friday.

In the recent years, Mhatre had taken to chronicling Mumbai’s changing urbanscape and held exhibitions on it, including a solo exhibition in Delhi just two months ago.

Seasoned in the old school news ethics, Mhatre’s work stood out for its precision and speed. As a veteran news agency photographer, who reported both for the Associated Press and Reuters, as well as for the Illustrated Weekly of India apart from several leading Indian and international publications, he had an unerring instinct for news.

His photos have appeared in leading publications in India and around the world as well.

Not given to the flamboyance of some of his peers, Mhatre worked as an under-the-radar professional who delivered on his assignment unfailingly and always within the deadline.

From the rise of the Naxalite Movement of the 1970s to the uprising in Punjab led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale of the early 1980s, from the Bhopal gas tragedy to the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Mhatre was at hand to report on all major stories for a variety of media outlets.

He also photographed the Dalai Lama in McLeodganj in the aftermath of the 1989 Tibetan uprising, riots that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid and both “Operation Bluestar” and “Operation Black Thunder” at the Golden Temple, Amritsar.

“I am a hard-boiled news photographer driven and motivated by news first and everything else later,” Mhatre used to say.

Deeply informed about the techniques of photography and very up-to-date with changing technology and trends, he fundamentally believed that in the end it was always the photographer’s eye that separates the great from the mediocre. “It is not the camera, but the one behind it,” he used to say.

Mhatre was a sought after photography teacher even though his style of teaching could often come across as unsparing and unemotional. In recent years he had begun training amateur photographers of Mumbai by taking them on conducted photo walks around the metropolis, a city he loved and whose decline he bemoaned. He also held photography classes at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai.

Mhatre is survived by his wife Vineeta, a historian, and daughter Mallika, a design and communication professional. (IANS)