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Saturday, May 13, 2023

Triplicane Legends - Photo studio : Thanjai Murthi

 The beautiful  - “Triplicane”  the land of holy Sri Parthasarathi temple,  pronounced Tiruvallikeni by natural laws of linguistics,  crudely rolled and twisted out of shape by the English tongue  is a place where religion, nationalistic fervour, patriotism, sports, education and the individual dignity have interspersed.

Took this picture with his permission a couple of days back  – Triplicanites for sure would know this gentle 70+ person now living in TP Koil Street – some may not know his fame !! -  before you read further do you ‘Silver halide’ ? 

A silver halide (or silver salt) is one of the chemical compounds that can form between the element silver (Ag) and one of the halogens.   

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.    

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.   You need to remember the regn. no.  and even if you were to go after seven years, you could get some more prints.  

Silver halides make for the key component of the emulsion. Without them, no light sensitivity. These crystals are scattered in a gelatin substrate providing a buffered environment as well as stabilizing some chemical reactions. Photographic processing   is the chemical means by which photographic film or paper is treated after photographic exposure to produce a negative or positive image. Photographic processing transforms the latent image into a visible image, makes this permanent and renders it insensitive to light. Silver halides are used in photographic processing. When a silver halide crystal is exposed to light, a sensitivity speck on the surface of the crystal is turned into a speck of metallic silver (these comprise the invisible or latent image).   

The man at the start is Mr Thanjai Moorthi, who owned a studio – ‘Thanjai Moorthi photo studio’ at kulakkarai – a very friendly person who gave people the face to remember (PP photos) – there was Maruti studio too, at Thiruther entrance (more about this later). The studio provided employment for some Triplicane youngsters too.


In mid 1980s, muthangi samarpanai was rendered  to Sri Parthasarthi Emperuman by Thanjai Murthi.  He is a member of our Srinivas Youngmens Association (SYMA) also.  Some nostalgically remember that his studio had a PCO too – one can insert Re 1 and speak for 3 minutes – a great hit of those days !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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