Nehru and Che

Published: Tuesday 15 July 2008

In 1968, when the photographer Don Honeyman was experimenting with Alberto Korda's iconic image of Che Guevara, he discovered something curious. Trying to achieve the same effect as the first image that had been published in the European press he discovered through comparison that some canny designer, presumably at the original Italian printers, had made Che slimmer and his face longer, by about one-sixth. It didn't really do to have a revolutionary who was chubby.

Che's legacy, 40 years after his death in a failed attempt to ignite revolution in Bolivia, rests heavily on an image so powerful and so plastic that it still serves both as a generalised inspiration to rebel and as a vehicle for the sale of everything from ashtrays to T-shirts.

With a view to set the record straight, India International Centre hosted an exhibition, 'Che Guevara in Cuba and Around the World'. In 1959 soon after Castro's ascent to power, Che was sent to Asia and Europe on a goodwill trip by the Cuban leader. Accompanied by a small delegation the leader came to India for a rendezvous with Jawaharlal Nehru. While the two revolutionary leaders dined and talked about what-only-they-can-talk-about, a few shutter happy photographers had a field day. These pictures form an essential part of the collection of 19 photographs exhibited to commemorate his eightieth birth anniversary.

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