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Once upon a time in India

She is India’s foremost photo chronicler. A peek into the rare archives of Homai Vyarawalla, who captured the who’s who of modern Indian political history in their candid moments.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2010 20:55 IST
Hindustan Times

It’s all about being at the right place at the right time. Homai Vyarawalla, India’s first woman photojournalist, wouldn’t have thought when she came back to India in the year of Quit India Movement (1942), that the work she would do for the imperial British Information Services would fetch her the first national photo award in Independent India. And that she would be seen as the leading professional photographer of the freedom movement.

But given her body of work that includes candid moments of the who’s who of modern Indian political history, it was inevitable. Jawaharlal Nehru and his family figured frequently in her work. Vyarawalla’s presence in the power corridors between 1940s and 1960s is a part of the history of the nascent free India.

Vadodara-based Vyarawalla, 97, will be felicitated with a lifetime achievement award on August 19.

A two month-retrospective on Vyarawalla’s life and works will be on from August 27 at the National gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.

Homai Vyarawalla, India’s first woman photojournalist, with her speed graphic camera. Working for the British Information Services, she had access to the power corridors of early Independent India

Pandit Nehru releasing a pigeon at a function at the National Stadium, Delhi, Mid 1950s

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India at the YWCA Flower Show, New Delhi, 25 February, 1950

Nehru’s body lying in state at Teen Murti House with his daughter Indira Gandhi looking on, 1964

The D.U.K.W. carrying Gandhi’s ashes for immersion at Triveni, Allahabad on February 12th, 1948. Seen on board are Sarojini Naidu, Padmaja Naidu, Dr. Sushila Nayar, Devdas Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Sardar Patel and Jeevraj Mehta.

The First Republic Day Parade on January 26th, 1950 in Delhi. This was held where the National Stadium stands today with the Purana Quila in the background.

Indira Gandhi with GB Pant, the Union Home Minister, who was one of the Congressmen who persuaded her to stand for elections for the post of Congress party president

First Published: Aug 14, 2010 20:50 IST