India: Through Her Eyes

I remember talking to her on the phone at the end of 2010 for a story I was doing for a magazine. It was about Sabeena Gadihoke’s biographical work, ‘India in Focus: Camera Chronicles of Homai Vyarawalla’. On the other side of the phone, she was this sweet frail voice, very kind and humble.

1. Nehru, next to a ‘Photography Strictly Prohibited’ sign board. 2. Young Homai Vyarawalla with her camera. 3. Chacha Nehru, laughing with children.

She’s often called the ‘First Lady of Indian Photography’ and rightly so. She photographed the last stages of the British Raj and India’s transition from a colony to a democracy. Fiercely independent and bold, Homai often found herself in the midst of the great leaders and took shots of them in their most candid, human moments.

Indira Gandhi, with Feroze Gandhi, before she got her short hairstyle that was to stay for life.

Homai Vyarawalla passed away on January 15th, 2012 at the age of 98. This is to pay tribute to this spirited woman, who challenged the gender norms of her times and depicted an iconic India through her lens.

(All the images are sourced from Sabeena Gadihoke’s, ‘India in Focus: Camera Chronicles of Homai Vyarawalla’.)

– SB

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