Reminiscing Through the Streets of Bombay
There is a line on the inside flap of the book that says, “… Bombay was the first Indian city where the photographic needs of the public—including more affluent indigenous Indians as well as British— were catered to.” Considering this was in the 1850s, it is safe to say this was impressive. The flap further tells you that Bombay had more practitioners of the art than anywhere else in Asia!
The book goes on to showcase the works of various ‘indigenous’ Indians like Hurrichand Chintamon, Narayan Daji, Sivshanker Narayan, Shapoor N Bhedwar and Raja Deen Dayal, as well as British practitioners like Samuel Bourne, the founder of India’s oldest surviving photo studio, and Edward Taurines amongst others.
It is a fascinating look into early Bombay and the way of life through the eyes of the inhabitants. Its features street scenes, Maharajas, artists, tribes, bazaars, children. The cover itself has a English teacher or ‘mistress’ surrounded by female pupils of the Government Normal School, Bombay. What makes the book even more interesting is the running dialogue Susan Hapgood has with the viewer, peppered with anecdotes like the time Hurrichund Chintamon was asked by Harper’s Weekly to contribute pictures of a ‘Hindu ascetic floating in the air and of jugglers performing feats that could not be explained by Western scientists.’
‘Bombay’ lovers, photography practitioners, history buffs or anyone really, this one’s for you.
Title: Early Bombay Photography
Authors: Susan Hapgood
Publisher: Mapin Publishing and Contemporary Arts Trust, Mumbai
Price: Rs. 1950