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Welcome to Sunil Janah's Home Page. Mr. Janah has been physically unable to review all the material at this website, but supports it in spirit. This site is still evolving. We hope that you will find something of use here. Your comments and questions are welcome. With your help, we hope to make this a useful resource.
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Starting in the forties, when India was in the throes of famine and mass
struggles against British colonial rule, an Indian photographer, Sunil Janah, began producing some striking pictures, that touched many Indians' lives.
Through the drama of the peasant and labor movements, the horrors of partition, and the years of rapid industrialization and urbanization that followed India's
independence, Sunil Janah continued to photograph India and her people,
traveling all over the subcontinent.
These photographs, the work of a gifted craftsman, can be enjoyed, by all, for their strong visual impact, and appreciated, by photographers and others, for their composition and technical quality. They were taken, mostly, in natural lighting, often under difficult physical conditions.
While many of his photographs reflect aspects of India that seem timeless,
Janah also captured India in transition. He recorded many tumultuous and
critical events that changed history, as well as ways of life that have,
unfortunately, become history.
For all these reasons, these images should be of interest not only to those interested in photography, but also to students and scholars of Indian history, politics, arts, anthropology and archaeology. His pictures of famines, of the independence movement, of partition, of remote tribal peoples, of dance, and of temple sculpture, constitute a powerful educational resource.
These, however, are but the backdrop for Sunil Janah's main focus, which,
has remained, steadfastly, on the ordinary people of India - on her factory
workers, miners, artisans, and peasants - on her city dwellers, villagers
and tribal folk. His skills as a photographer bring the warmth and personalities of these individual human beings to life, as it were. It is worth noting that he
was one of the first photojournalists to turn his camera from the rich and famous of India towards the common people, and to portray them, with affection
and respect, as individuals.
In the course of his work, Janah did, of course, repeatedly encounter the movers and shakers of his place and era. Thus, his photographs of the salt of India's earth are complemented by portraits of luminaries. These range from men and women of politics like Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Subhas Bose, P.C. Joshi, and Indira Gandhi, to a galaxy of personalities from the literary and artistic fields, to the physicist Satyen Bose (of Bose-Einstein statistics), the sage Jiddu Krishnamurti, and India's "great soul", Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
[ Text continues below photograph of Gandhi at a prayer meeting, 1946. ]
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For those who have experienced the sights of India, these photographs will have emotional appeal. Given their geographical and temporal range, they will reveal aspects of India that may be unfamiliar even to many Indians. For those who have never been to India, these photographs will open a window to another, parallel, human universe, seen through a practiced native eye.
- Arjun Janah, 1998
-- has biographical, historical information, plus list of books, exhibitions
gives a (pre-1998) listing of Sunil Janah's exhibitions.