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Reality Bytes

Octogenarian photo journalist Tambarahalli Subramanya Satyan,better known as TS Satyan has seen India evolve from pre-Independence to the new millennium.

Written by Debesh Banerjee |
January 22, 2009 2:44:04 am

This photo exhibition displays images from a bygone era

Octogenarian photo journalist Tambarahalli Subramanya Satyan,better known as TS Satyan has seen India evolve from pre-Independence to the new millennium. A freelance photographer,his evocative images,be it Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru standing in the corridor of Parliament House or priests descending a staircase in a uniform line,have appeared in magazines like Newsweek,Time and the Christian Science Monitor. “Photo journalism is about capturing reality and infusing it with art to give the image a wider dimension,” explains Satyan 85,over the phone from his Mysore residence.

Satyan has put up an exhibition of his most memorable works as a freelance news photographer in his 50 year career,titled,“A Long Exposure” by Tasveer at the Stainless Gallery,near Okhla crossing at Old Ishwar Nagar in the Capital. The 40 black and white images from the early 1950s to as late as 2007 (when he clicked his last photographs) range from images of day-to-day activities of ordinary people,holy men,and influential people of every decade. Satyan says photography happened in his life,entirely by accident. “My father gifted me a Kodak camera costing Rs 10,when I was 12,” says Satyan. During his college days in Mysore University pursuing English Literature,the camera played an active role in shaping his creative vision. “My professors were from Oxford and Cambridge. They taught me the importance of writing along with photographs. And it was with their help that my first ‘pictorial story’ was published in the Christian Science Monitor in the 40s,” he reminisces.

Being brought up in Mysore,Satyan could not resist capturing the many traditions from his ancestral village of Tambarahalli,that are slowly dying out. A picture dating back to 1979 shows a traditional rural wedding in progress,without fanfare,under a tree with the sanctity of the ceremony intact. Satyan also projects an era where eminent politicians were easily approachable. A photograph of Dr S Radhakrishnan,taken in 1960 in Delhi,shows the former President relaxing in his bedroom,reading a novel. “I was doing a feature on Dr Radhakrishnan and he ushered me into his living room. It was his day off,so he was unwinding with a novel,after lunch. He was very relaxed about the shoot,” says Satyan He fondly recollects his one-week travel with Maharani Gayatri Devi on the parliamentary election trail in Jaipur. A 1962 photograph showing the Maharani drinking tea,under a tree,with villagers,depicts his candid approach towards big personalities. “Sadly one cannot go anywhere near politicians now,” he sighs.

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The exhibition is on till January 24th,from 11am- 7 pm except for Sundays. Contact: 42603167

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