Friday, August 5, 2011

Homai Vyarawalla...............................होमाई व्यारावाला

Homai Vyarawalla – India’s First Woman Press Photographer

देश की पहली महिला प्रेस फोटोग्राफर होमाई व्यारावाला (98)

गुजरात के नवसारी में मध्यम वर्गीय परिवार में जन्मी व्यारावाला ने 1938 में फोटोग्राफी के क्षेत्र में प्रवेश किया। उस वक्त कैमरा ही अपने आप में एक आश्चर्य कहलाता था। उस पर भी एक महिला का इस क्षेत्र में प्रवेश करना बड़े अचरज की बात थी। उन्होंने 1970 में पेशेवर फोटोग्राफी छोड़ दी थी।
Homai Vyarawalla (born 1913), commonly known by her pseudonym "Dalda 13," is India's first woman photo journalist . She was the first of the women pioneers of India to enter a male dominated field and be successful.
In 2011, she was chosen for the second highest civilian award Padma Vibhushan by Govt. of India.
Photography came to India in the 1840's, and many photographers suitably adopted the mores and conventions worked out by generations of British artistes, who had visited the Indian subcontinent from the start of the late eighteenth century. By the end of the 19th century, many aristocratic Indian men had started taking to photography as a hobby more than as a profession.
Indian women from upper class families also started taking interest in photography after 1910.
She was the first woman press photographer of India. With a very fulfilling career span of over thirty five years (1938-1973), she started her photographic career in Mumbai, the city where she moved to for further studies from her native Navsari in Gujarat. She earned a diploma in art at the prestigious Sir J J School of Arts.
Though she was attracted to painting, she realised soon enough that it would not bring much money. Photography was "something new, something interesting and artistic enough." Plus, it paid well . She published her first pictures in Bombay Chronicle and was paid one rupee for each , a very good sum those days
.After that, there was no stopping her and her pictures are still studied by many of the budding photographers who wish to follow her footsteps.
As a very young woman, she fell in love with another photographer called Maneckshaw and married him. She lived happily ever thereafter. Maneckshaw had a tremendous influence on Homai as a photographer. In the early days Homai took the photographs and her husband Maneckshaw spent hours in the dark room at home to get the right colours . In the field of photography and photo-journalism Homai and Maneckshaw complemented and supplemented each other.
Later, Homai started freelancing for the Illustrated Weekly of India. And its editor Stanley Jepson used to give her weekly assignments. In the early days for a fragile woman like Homai taking photographs in field situations was not easy. Her large-format Speed Graphic camera had a composite wood, steel and aluminium chassis, which used to weigh more than six pounds. Taking each photograph with this heavy weight equipment was indeed a heroic act of weight lifting. In 1942, Homai and Maneckshaw moved to Delhi to work for the British High Commission, then known as Far Eastern Bureau of British Information Services. From that moment Homai Vyarawalla became a permanent fixture at all major ceremonies ? either government or private sector ? and during the next 25 years she turned out her best work as a press photographer and photo-journalist.
When Homai Vyarawalla dressed in an elegant Indian sari and armed with a Rolliflex camera, was hopping from place to place in the centers and corridors of power from 1945 to the late 1960's, she had the unique opportunity, normally given to very few press photographers, of catching on the camera great historical events and personalities ranging from Lord Mountbatten to Marshall Tito, from Queen Elizabeth to Jacqueline Kennedy, from Khrushchev to Kosygin, from Eisenhower to Nixon, apart from Atlee, Nasser, Chou En Lai and a host of others who have shaped the direction and contours of 20th century history. She took many delightful photographs of Nehru, Indira Gandhi and the other members of her family. Thus she herself became a part of history in the making, capturing World War II, India's Freedom Struggle leading up to independence and subsequently the hectic days of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.
Homai Vyarawalla lost her husband in 1969 and soon thereafter she moved to Vadodhara where she has been living alone ever since in total anonymity. She is over 93 years old today. It is exciting to read about her childhood in Bombay, her brilliant career as India's first woman photo-journalist and her subsequent retirement to Vadodhara.


  1. ‎.....Naresh ji....aadarniya ''HOMAI VYARAWALLA'' ji ki uplabdhion aur unke mahaan vyaktitwa ko jaan ne ka avsar aapke dwara mila....desh ki iss pahali mahila press photographer ki sanghrsh shilta v uplabdhiaan kabil-e-taarif hai..2011 main unka padamshree award ke liye chuna jaana unki mahaan jiwni ki ore ingit karta hai....aaj bhi unka hamaare beech hona badaa sukhad hai....main unke sukhi jeewan v achche swaasthya ke liye 'ISHWAR'' se praarthna karta photography ke chetr main unki uplabdhiyaan sunahare akhcharon main likhi ja chuki hain....unke sukhmayi jeewan ki kaamna karta hoon....aadarniya ''HOMAI VYARAWALLA''ji ko me natmastak ho kar naman..karta hoon....naresh ji iss khoobsoorat post ke liye aapka bahut-bahut shukriyaa....