An eye for special moments

Photo Collection

An eye for special moments

Anand Kumar, a shopkeeper at the busy Kasi Chetty Street of Chennai, is also a shutterbug with a difference. He calls his small shop the ‘Photograph House’ as most of the space is taken up by an enviable collection of vintage photos.

He has been collecting them for 35 years now, and shows off 50,000 rare pictures of both world leaders and historic events, including the last minutes of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.

Sitting in a “dungeon” decorated with uncommon photographs, Anand holds up a photo of Subhash Chandra Bose, bedridden in the early 30s. “It’s quite rare,” he adds.
The photo collector remembers the dates of political leaders’ births and deaths, and  showcases “their photos on their birthdays.”

 As part of street photo-exhibition, he has displayed the captured moments of Mother Teresa’s life and that of Indian independence movement.

At 15, Anand did not want to continue his father’s business. “I took Rs 50 in 1975 from my father’s shop and bought a rare picture of the late M G Ramachandran (MGR) from a photographer,” he recalls. Anand has with him photos of other yesteryear actors like Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan, too.

As a next step, he says, he “bought a second-hand camera and started visiting locations of film shooting to capture actions of the actors there.”

Anand has also travelled across the country to collect photographs. “I go to museums, memorial houses of great leaders, and click pictures that are showcased,” he reveals, adding that he has few originals because his income doesn’t let him buy more. His income also plays havoc with the photos’ maintenance, forcing him to store them in huge plastic covers. “I have no other choice,” he says.

Anand has, much to his disappointment, lost a section of his collection to the recent devastating floods. “I lost over 5,000 photographs!” he rues, as he deals with a customer.
“At least five youngsters come to my house every day to see my collection. It helps them understand how things were before technology came in. Now I’ll try to preserve them all in a better way,” he consoles himself.

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