Homai Vyarawalla: First Indian Woman Photojournalist's Journey Through Odds

Homai Vyarawalla was born on this day (9 December) in the year 1913 in Navsari, Gujarat.

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Homai Vyarawalla: First Indian Woman Photojournalist's Journey Through Odds

Google Doodle Honours India's First Woman Photojournalist: Homai Vyarawalla

New Delhi:  When it comes to the 'first woman' in every discipline India boasts of the long list of contenders who have made it to the list so far. Similar is the story of Homai Vyarawalla, the first Indian woman photojournalist. Homai Vyarawalla was born on this day (9 December) in the year 1913 in Navsari, Gujarat. With a Doodle in her name, Google paid tribute to the woman who carved a place for her in photojournalism during the pre-independence era. Commemorating her 104th birthday, the Doodle has been drawn by Mumbai artist Sameer Kulavoor. 'Today's Doodle honors India's "First Lady of the Lens" on what would have been her 104th birthday with a tapestry of Indian life and history drawn by guest Doodler and Mumbai artist Sameer Kulavoor. Vyarawalla is at the center.' Google Doodle: Celebrating India's First Woman Photojournalist, Homai Vyarawalla's 104th Birth Anniversary

Be it the first flag unfurling on 15 August 1947 or the photographs of national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru or the departure of the Lord Mountbatten from India, Homai Vyarawalla's contribution to photojournalism is immense. During her later years she gave away her collections to Delhi based Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, which in collaboration with NGMA Mumbai presented her work in 2010. She shot her first photo in 1938 a picnic party of women from the Women's Club in Mumbai. Her first published pictures were in the 'Bombay Chronicle' which paid her one rupee for every photograph.

Homai Vyarawalla started her career as a photojournalist during the onset of World War II, when she started taking up assignments for the Illustrated Weekly of India magazine. Majority of her works were published under the name of Dalda 13. In 1942 she joined the British Information Service as a full time employee.

Standing tall with her male counterparts, Homai Vyarawalla, was an icon then as well. India's first woman photojournalist, sari clad and biking to her assignments with equipment on shoulders was something new in the male driven sector those days. After she came to Mumbai for pursuing Diploma at St Xavier's College and later JJ School of Arts she chose photography over any other career. She was married to Manekcshaw Vyarawala, whom she met at the age of 13, was also a photographer at the Times of India.

One of her close friends Sabeen Gadihoke describes her as an adventurous woman. Narrating an incident to The Hindu, she said, Stranded in Sikkim, she hitched a ride back on an army truck after taking images of a young Dalai Lama crossing the border in 1959. Once she came tumbling down while trying to shoot Mohammad Ali Jinnah, bringing to a halt the proceedings of his last press conference the day before he left for Pakistan in 1947. Homai's fall brought a smile on Jinnah's face. '

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She breathed her last on 15 January 2012 at the age of 98.

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