'I'm tired of seeing Amitabh's photos'

'I'm tired of seeing Amitabh's photos'

Candid Camera

Perfectionist: Homai Vyarawalla

Old age has constrained her to a wheelchair but Homai’s spirit is larger than life and with no regrets she says that she will never take another photograph. Why? “There is no inspiration anymore,” she says.

Having done photojournalism for more than 35 years, Homai says that there came a point in her life when she felt it was time to stop. “I have had my time of glory where I was at the right place at the right time. However passionate one is, a person should know when to stop. I can’t be like Amitabh Bachchan,” she laughs while adding, “I am tired of seeing his photograph everyday everywhere though I have nothing personal against him.”

Gender was never a barrier, her fellow male photographers treated her like one of the boys. “When I started taking photographs, I never thought I was doing something extraordinary as a woman photographer. That was the time when no one cared if you were a male or a female in this profession. I used to get Re 1 for each photograph that got published and that’s what mattered to me,” she says.

Homai’s photographs extended from socially off-hand pictures to politically-intense state of affairs, which have a lot of historical significance. While she has a lot of admirers today, Homai says she too was a prey to many critics. “My biggest critics were housewives. More than criticising, they were jealous that they never got the freedom I got. I remember once I came a bit late for an event and one of them said dekho bhootni aagayi,” she laughs.

None of these things affected her, as Homai’s only policy in life was to do what she liked doing the most and do it with utmost honesty.

Her collection today includes pictures of the first time the national flag was hoisted at the Red Fort, the meeting where leaders voted for the June 3 Partition plan, the departure of Lord Mountbatten and the funerals of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri.

“I want today’s generation to see these photos and understand the dignity with which each of these leaders handled themselves in public. One’s honesty must reflect through the photographs, never bring yourself or the person in front of the camera down by taking pictures that humiliates them,” she signs off.

A retrospective of Homai Vyarawalla works, curated by Sabeena Gadihoke, is on at NGMA from May 8 to July 8.