Photo labs in the city are touching up and adding technology to update photographs of departed parents — with a new suit, a new coat, fairer complexion, and even better-shaped limbs. Pawan Mahatta of Mahatta and Co Studio in Connaught Place has an archive of 20,000 faces, shapes and sizes — all templates — to choose from. “A son may want to remember his mother in a salwar-kameez instead of a sari,” says Mahatta. “Or she can be made to wear jhumkas or a mangalsutra.”
Ahuja Colours in Chittaranjan Park has just straightened out the crooked feet of the late Kanak Devi — on request from her son. “Digital reproduction has enabled us to superimpose one person’s legs on another’s. We even put blue sandals on the lady’s feet,” says the shop assistant. For fathers, a topi or a coat are common spruce-ups. And for gurujis, it’s usually snow-capped mountains as background.
The use of technology to glam-up old black-and-white pictures of dead parents is also a pointer to the changing dynamics of the parent-child relationship, say sociologists. Dayanita Singh, who has documented families through photographs, says parents’ portraits are now moving away from the living room. What’s more, Mummyji and Papaji with chaddar and tilak may even be eased out of the frame — unless the lab assistant smartens them up.