Search This Blog

Friday, December 2, 2011

Building collapses in Rain – Ode to Photo studios of yore

Rain is not uncommon – every Season it rains – sometimes continuously, incessantly – the centimeter of rain fall may not be the criterion  but the force and amount of fall within a specified period could be ! – when it rains cats and dogs, we get to see lots of pictures in local newspapers of the water stagnation, vehicles getting struck, people suffering and more

Occasionally you also read ‘of building collapses’..  In areas like, Triplicane, Mylapore , Georgetown, Royapuram – you find century old structures – some in bad and dangerous condition.  On 26th Nov 2011, as it rained continuously for 2 /3 days, a 80 year old building located on Pycrofts Road [Bharathi Salai] collapsed – fortunately no loss of life, a person was reportedly injured.  Police said the part which housed four shops and a residence, could have collapsed because of the incessant rains.  The first floor of the two-storey building collapsed – it simply caved in and dramatically, some employed at a Fancy store in the ground floor came out running unhurt. 

The building reportedly was under some litigation.  Quite often when the property is under litigation, could be on the proprietary ownership between siblings / kith and kin or between occupants vs owners – the occupants do not move but continue to just stay put even when conditions are abysmally bad.  By the looks of it, you could observe some buildings are certain to fall, only the timing could not be determined, you would wonder to find occupants either as residents or running shops……..

Firefighters from Egmore, Triplicane and Kilpauk, and an emergency rescue tender from Egmore fire station were pressed into service.  The building, constructed in 1931, is owned by Rajasekhar of Anna Nagar. Apart from the fancy store, the building housed Venus Shoppee and Kids Store, Victoria Tea Stall and Chandrika photo studio.  Four occupants of the house were rescued by fire personnel.

To outsiders it is just a news item……. But if you have ever resided in Triplicane, especially a few decades ago, you have more to read.

Perhaps one of the commonest desires of mankind – is seeing their own face – be it a mirror or in a photograph.  More commonly people tend to look out and watch for their faces in a Function album than the function.  There could even be some without ‘egos’ but perhaps each individual has a bit of narcissism inside – a personal trait of self love, inflated self-important, conceit, selfishness or simply thinking of thyself.  I do not mean unhealthy self absorption but a craving to see oneself  more.  In Greek myth, Narcissus was a beautiful young man who rejected all potential lovers, but then tragically fell in love with his own reflection in a pool.

The craving for a photograph was unsaturated in olden days – as there were very limited opportunities.  The modern day youth can never understand this for they live in the World of instant availability – they have mobiles with high mega pixel capacity cameras in built, there are the digital cameras where you can take hundreds of photos and load them on computer for viewing.

Not in olden days – those days for an important function, people would engage a Photographer from a popular studio to take say a role or two of pictures – and in earlier days only black and white ones.  There were these imposing photo studios where one thought was ‘science and technology’ of taking out the tiny film roll, develop and then print them magically showing your faces and  the ones dearer and nearer to you. For the elite few, who owned a camera, still taking photography was an art – after taking out a roll at your choicest place, on an important trip, you come down to the Photo studio unsure of how many clicks actually would have translated into a photo.  One would say to the mushroomed colour labs in later days – ‘OGP – only good prints’ meaning that only those who are look-at-able needs to be printed.   A photo was considered costly affair.

To be more nostalgic, for some their first photograph was to be the passport size black and white taken for their Typewriting Exam or for pasting on an application for a job or for the hall ticket for an Examination.  One would go to the photo studio, well dressed [in the best attire one had] stand before the mirror there, paint with the cheap powder kept there, comb oneself and would state at the camera trying to sit erect at the same time maintaining a smile.  The photographer would stand behind the huge equipment mounted on a tripod, would cover himself with a blanket and would reel out instructions before a click is made..  you remain faint hearted thinking on how the pose would have transformed and whether you would get a photo decent enough to see and then circulate, which perhaps decided the fate of many in the marriage market – as passport size photos of the prospective bride / bridegroom would be exchanged and decisions taken on that !!!!!!!

For those who lived in Triplicane, the  Pycrofts Road ,  (named as Bharathiyar Salai later) presented wonders.. it was the place where one would alight when travelling by City transport buses [Pallavan Transport – PTC those days], it had famous eateries like Murali Café, Marina ground opposite to Presidency College and then it had some famous studios [not the ones were movies were taken but where pictures were taken]

There sure must have been many – but these 3 – Pandian Studio, Vanitha Studio and Chandrika Studio were quite famous.  Chandrika was closer to Raja Hanumantha Lala Street, Vanitha was situated between Nalla Thambi Mudali Street &  Muthukalathi Street;    Pandian Studio was on the first floor, opposite to State Bank lying in between Neeli Veerasamy Street and Venkatachala Chetty Street.  Most who lived in Triplicane, would have stood in front of the cameras in one of these studios at some point of their life – the studios would only give a print but preserve the negative with them.  You need to remember the regn. no.  and even if you were to go after seven years, you could get some more prints

Life was lot simpler and lot of small things gave us satisfaction – it is that Chandrika Studio, which has come tumbling down in the recent rains

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

No comments:

Post a Comment