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After the mutiny

art and culture Updated: Jan 23, 2012 20:08 IST

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Beato’s Delhi: 1857 and beyond
Jim Masselos and Narayani Gupta
Penguin Viking/Ravi Dayal
Rs 1,499

Felice Beato, one of the first photojournalists in the world, wanted to capture the Indian ‘mutiny’ of 1857. But he could reach Calcutta only by the beginning of 1858, when the war had ended.

He started on a two-year tour of the ravaged garrison towns. Delhi presented a picture of British retribution and Beato captured, among other events, a mass hanging. He was also interested in built structures and created the first photographic record of the post-Mughal ghost town.

In 1997, Jim Masselos followed in Beato’s steps and, painstakingly, tried to shoot the Delhi sites from the same angles and elevations. This book, the result of the remarkable conversation between the two photographers 140 years apart, is a rare chronicle of the city.