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In remembrance of S Paul Veteran photographer S Paul was a great master whose outstanding art was matched by outstanding warmth and generosity With the recent passing of S Paul, ‘Paul Sa’ab’ to his friends, colleagues and legions of admirers, photography in India has lost one of its most outstanding practitioners ever. The void he has left behind will be difficult to fill. There, doubtless, remains his brother, Raghu Rai, perhaps the tallest poppy now among the Indian sub-continent's artists with cameras. Both, however, occupied their distinct spaces in the country’s photographic landscape and Raghu, I am sure, would be the first to affirm that it would take a long time, if ever, for another iconic figure like his elder sibling, who did so much for so many, to emerge. I have known both of them. Raghu and I did two very different things at The Statesman in the early 1970s. I wrote on the typewriter (no computer then): He shot with cameras. It was while watching his work at close quarters that I realised that one could turn mundane news photography into superior art if one had a touch of genius. The realisation was confirmed when I saw his elder brother, S Paul, at work at The Indian Express where he clicked away from 1962 to 1989, and I tapped away first on the typewriter and then on the computer from 1981 to the very end of 1993. The two brothers were very different. Raghu was, and has remained, the archetypal flamboyant extrovert who arrived even for a chat with a flourish and departed with a flourish, his presence itself a statement of his exuberance. Paul Sa’ab was relatively quiet, was given neither to sweeping gestures nor to colourful, high-decibel talk. Yet he did not lack in conviviality, was articulate and could express his thoughts with remarkable clarity. What was common to both brothers was their genius. Photography has been described as art with light. It is, however, the eye that decides when a person or any non-human living being or object, caught in an arc or shaft of light or pouring sunlight, constitutes a scene that would constitute art when photographed. Paul Sa’ab had his eyes open all the time and could see the unusual and the eternal in what would appear to others a quotidian occurrence — women walking in the rain, young boys perched on a tree and watching intently something below. The discerning vision was matched by his vast and meticulous grasp of technology and the result of the combination was photographs that would stand the test of time. We met almost every day when I was at The Indian Express and seldom thereafter as the trajectories of our lives went in very different directions. Yet, I always carried within me a profound respect for the artist as well as the kind of person he was. He was, therefore, the first person I thought of when searching for someone to inaugurate my first solo exhibition of photographs at the India International Centre in May, 2005. He did me the great honour of accepting my request and his inaugural speech, full of incisive comments about photography in general and my work, was heard with rapt attention. I was deeply honoured and moved when he visited my second solo exhibition at the India International Centre in December 2015. He stayed for over two hours, looking at the photographs, commenting on those which he thought were significant, telling me what more I could do to improve my craft. Several young photographers who were present flocked round him. He spoke to them with warmth and kindness and was generous with tips. But that was Paul Sa’ab, whose generosity had few limits. Then came his act of profound generosity to me. Before leaving, he wrote in the visitors’ book: “Very good pictures of a variety of landscapes. There are some magical too, There is a lot of improvement over your last exhibition! I do hope I will look for another still better one. GOD BLESS and all the best.” Paul Sa’ab, I will cherish these comments for ever and never cease regretting that you left for the hereafter before I could put another exhibition together. It is now my turn to say, “GOD BLESS and all the best.” Happy journey, Great Master. (The writer is Consultant Editor, The Pioneer, and an author)