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A PASSAGE THROUGH INDIA

O mar Khan’s FROM KASHMIR TO KABUL (Mapin, Rs 2,000), painstakingly brings together the scattered works of the almost forgotten 19th century rivals of Bourne & Shepherd — John Burke and William Baker. Formerly army soldiers, the two “rank among the earliest war, news and landscape photographers in the Indian subcontinent”. Through their breathtaking sepia-tinted shots, the two pioneers capture not only the adventures of the raj (1860-1900) — particularly in Afghanistan — but also the people of a massive geographical stretch which has been cordoned off from the public eye by recent political happenings. What is particularly striking about their photography is the warmth and sympathy with which they view the “vanquished” — be it an old Sikh, the hookah-smoking nautch girls, or a group of musicians on the streets of Jalalabad (picture). This is much too important a work to merely adorn the coffee table.

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