16 May, 2021

The Lady With A Candid Camera

A scholarly coffee-tabler, meticulously tracing the intrepid odyssey of India's first lady photojournalist

The Lady With A Candid Camera

All of us are witnesses to the history of our time, but only a fortunate few are close enough to document its major players and chronicle its key events. These are photojournalists. Yet, proximity alone is not enough. It requires razor-sharp reflexes, keen anticipation and the gall to storm into places where the decorous fear to tread.

One such intrepid chronicler is the grand old lady of photojournalism, Homai Vyarawalla. Now almost 93, her professional career spanned three of the most decisive and crucial decades in India’s 20th-century history—1940 to 1970. In these 30 years, Homai lived in Delhi mainly photographing the political elite and their activities as a press photographer. She may not have been aware at the time that her work would become an important visual testimony of India’s transition from a colonised country to the Indian nation and its travails over the next quarter of a century.

Sabeena Gadihoke has done a painstaking job of putting together a meticulously researched and surprisingly scholarly coffeetable-sized book of Homai’s...

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