Monday, 8 December 2014


Prasanna Rao creating magic with his fingers. Photo courtesy: RMAC

All you need are the fingers on your hands — to create magic. That is if you are Prasanna Rao, the renowned shadowgrapher. Though the doyen of shadowgraphy bid adieu to this world in 2003, remanants of his work still lives on in the form of photographs. And you can see them at the Rangoli Metro Art Centre on MG Road where it will be exhibited from December 11, 2014.  

Prasanna’s love for shadows-on-the-wall began at a very young age. As a child, he used to fall sick often; he spent more time in bed than on the playgrounds kicking ball with his friends. In order to keep himself entertained in the sick bay, he would lie on his back and create shadows on the walls of his bedroom — dogs, cats, birds and so; apparently, they became his good friends. Soon, his ‘shadow games’ became something that everybody around him enjoyed. And when he went to Shantiniketan to pursue art is when he discovered his life’s passion to become a shadowgrapher.

He was famous for creating 'shadow portraits' on the wall
Prasanna then went to Czechoslovakia to research shadow puppets; he even worked on a TV show. He also worked in Paris for close to a decade. Soon, Prasanna became famous and began performing for people like Jawaharlal Nehru.  There was a time when he regaled audiences in a dark hall, from Germany to America, with a focus light that brought his shadow-figures alive.

Known as a man who saw the world around him differently, minutely and with great love, Prasanna was renowned for his‘shadow portraits’ of even complete strangers. Just like a portrait artist, he would study a person’s face then create a portrait on the wall using his fingers, light and shadows. Till the very end, Prasanna remained a creative man. Twisting his fingers to bring joy.

If you have the time, go check out the photography exhibition of shadowgraphy by Prasanna at The Rangoli Metro Art Centre, MG Road, Bangalore. From 11 am to 7.30 pm. From December 11 to 14.