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LOVE LINKS – The Click Of A Heartbeat ft. Avani & Raghu Rai

The Gucci x Runway Square anthology ‘LOVE LINKS’ puts a spotlight on lesser known, yet enduring bonds shared by known faces. This is the story of Avani Rai and her father Raghu Rai.

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Photographs freeze moments in time. It is a note from the past to the future about the transient nature of the presence. It is a flat shiny piece of paper. It is a JPeg file. It is a social media post. It is what you make of it. But for Avani Rai, her childhood abounds in photographs. Black and white and coloured memories of her father—in a ghat in Varanasi or catching seagulls in flight in Delhi with his discerning lens—are what have molded her, only for her to lose herself in images all over again as a photographer. And her first project was to capture her father Raghu Rai, a widely-celebrated photographer, in the very frame that shaped her artist self. Much like her father, Avani’s eye is for the world, as they are of the world.

As an ode to love, and a celebration of Gucci’s first-ever fine jewelry collection launch in India – Link To Love, we explore the many different bonds shared amongst and as friends, father and daughter, artists, collaborators, or with our own selves through Runway Square X Gucci LOVE LINKS Anthology wherein we tell five beautiful stories to honour these connections. We live multiple lives in a lifetime, but love was, is, and always will be there – and that’s why this anthology puts a spotlight on the lesser-known, yet enduring connections shared by these known faces. And this is the story of Avani Rai and her father Raghu Rai.

Runway Square: Mr. Rai, when did you first reach for the camera?

Raghu Rai: In my early 20s when I was staying with my elder brother S Paul, a dedicated photographer, I didn’t know what to do with myself, and in sheer lack of not knowing what next, by chance, I borrowed a camera from my brother. Off I went with his friend Yog Joy to his village. Two of the photographs I took – one of a baby donkey and the other of an old lady with children instinctively capturing the simplicity and at the same time the uniqueness of its own kind ­­– were published in The Times, London; such accidents happen rarely.

RSQ: What is your first memory of your father taking a picture?

Avani Rai: A lot of my memories have been built around photographs because I’ve seen places I’ve visited or not visited through perfect imagery, so I can feel and sense it in the image that has been taken. My first memory of my father would be a photograph of him shooting. The picture is of him shooting a picture of Varanasi or the seagulls in Old Delhi that we have often been to. So that’s my first memory. A lot of my childhood is blurred between images and actual memories.

RSQ: Was there a moment in your early days as a father when you felt that Avani would reach for the camera, that she would be a creator in the same realm of creativity?

RR: Never. In fact, when she picked up a camera, her first project was to film me and that annoyed me to no end.

RSQ: Is there a particular series or image of Avani’s you hold beloved?

RR: Yes, of course, several of them; when she goes crazy, exploring her inner space.

RSQ: Your journey in photography has been so successful. As an artist, where do you see yourself going from here?

AR: I think I am a toddler at what I do and I feel there are many, many years to do what I want to do. I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I think photography is a way of telling a story in one frame but a lot of stories cannot be told in one frame, and that’s why you need a film. And I paint, and I want to do 10 other things, which hopefully will happen. So, as an artist, one finds ways for expression, and one finds ways to document the lives we live, and the times we live in.

RSQ: How do you find your gaze differs while shooting the one subject you both seem to equally and profoundly adore – Gurmeet?

RR: She is my sweetheart and friend who happens to be a loving mother and also a friend somewhere to Avani, so the responses will be varied and different.

Avani Rai Runway Square X Gucci Love Links
Avani Rai dressed in Gucci Overture collection and Link To Love Jewelry.

RSQ: Avani, how do you balance your creative and social projects?

AR: I have never been to protests or conflicts for assignments or experienced them through assignments. And thankfully I didn’t have to because I have been doing projects of different kinds where I do make the money that I need to. And I can explore life and experience what is happening around me only because I care. So, my serious assignments of Bhopal or of protests or anything that is happening in our country don’t come from assignments. They’ve always come from the need to photograph what means something to me.

RSQ: While we’re sure Avani gets this question often, we’d love to know – what do you feel you have learned from her?

RR: What Avani is at this young age, so independent, so intense, and dedicated, at the same time connected and concerned with social issues of today make me feel jealous because it took me much longer to come to that level of sensitivity. She is a unique individual on her personal journey of explorations and madness, and I love her for this.

RSQ: Have you ever considered working with Avani on a project together?

RR: I dare not, she is too individualistic, and I respect that.


Editor + Creative Director: Charu Gaur
Photographer + Videographer + Art Director: Pretika Menon
Stylist: Ekta Rajani
Junior Editor + Creative Assistant: Karishma Gulyani
Make-up + Hair + Manicure: Jean-Claude Biguine India
Text: Shubhanjana Das
Styling Assistant: Swity Shinde
Photography Assistant + Photo Editor: Karan Sarnaik
Music: JBABE / Third Culture
Set Designer:  Jangu Sethna
Production House: Anomaly Production Pvt. Ltd.
Artworks: Shaista Syed / Kitsuné India

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