In this series Raghu Rai profiles twelve of the greatest masters of Indian classical music including Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Bismillah Khan, Vilayat Khan, Bhimsen Joshi, Kumar Gandharva, Kishori Amonkar, Mallikarjun Mansoor, M.S.Subbulakshmi, Allah Rakha, Zakhir Husain and Dr. S. Balachander. Rai started on this series in the early 80s while working with India Today as its director of photography, and kept at it even later as he followed these masters across continents, photographing them in their homes, during classes, at concerts and even at special locations. Photographed in black and white, each of these sixty-odd images evokes the transcendental quality of the musician’s language, capturing their unique individualistic styles. The photographs are not merely portraits but ‘captured moments or facets’ of each musician’s life, as they ‘lived’ with their music.
Raghu Rai has managed to capture Kishori Amonkar in a musical trance; Alla Rakha, and his son Zakir Hussain against a breathtaking view; Bismillah Khan and Bhimsen Joshi were taken at ingenious angles revealing the photographer's aspiration to move beyond the ordinary frontal gaze of the photographer. Rai's understanding of classical music helped him attain that extra dimension and his ability of catching the right mood displays his own artistic experience. As eight of these masters have already passed away, these sensitive, powerful, joyous portraits are testimony to Indian musical heritage.