Amid hectic campaigning schedule this election season, politicians from across Delhi — both from the Congress and BJP — have been unfailingly keeping their dates with an address in Kamala Nagar in north Delhi.
No, it is not an astrologer’s or a fortuneteller’s but of a photo studio that has carved a niche in making professional vote-seekers look impressive in photographs.
For half a century now, Studio Prem near Delhi University has been the one-stop shop for budding, aspiring or seasoned politicians for portfolios.
The studio walls are adorned with headshots of almost all candidates who stood for DU students’ polls in the past two decades.
Some of them, like BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley, Parliamentarian Vijay Goel and Delhi BJP president Dr Harsh Vardhan graduated to things bigger than student politics but kept returning to the studio for more. Many are ministers in the present Delhi government.
“Looking good is very important in politics. Most politicians are very particular about how they look in pictures and posters. It’s the first step to an image makeover,” said Umesh Sabharwal, photographer and co-owner of Studio Prem.
In their frames, the Sabharwals have been capturing the changing hues of politicians through ages.
“Earlier politicians preferred an intellectual look with hands folded in a namaskar. That gave way to the revolutionary type, with a clenched fist thrown in the air — a slightly angry expression. Nowadays, they offer a smile and show the ‘V’ sign,” he said.
The attire has also changed. The “Gandhi cap, the headgear that symbolised Indian politicians for ages, has not found takers for the past 10 years,” he said. “The Jawahar coat is also gone. Now they prefer simple shirts.”
Prem Sabharwal, Umesh’s elder brother, said being a superstitious lot, many politicians also regarded Studio Prem lucky for candidates.
“Once a DUSU poll candidate was denied ticket because he had got his pictures done somewhere else,” Prem said.
On Tuesday, BJP candidate from New Delhi constituency Vijay Jolly posed for his portfolio for two hours.
“I had trounced the Congress in DUSU polls in 1980, at a time when Congress had made a huge comeback nationally. That year, the pictures were taken at Studio Prem. It instilled a confidence in me that pictures clicked here also clicked with the masses. Since then I have been coming here,” Jolly said.