First Indian Woman Photo-Journalist Homai Vyarawalla Dies


January 16, 2012

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Art | Individuals

homai vyarawallaFirst Post: India’s first woman photo-journalist, Vyarawala captured a nation in transition

A picture of Jawaharlal Nehru, smoking and helping Ms Simon— wife of then British High Commissioner to India— light up a cigarette, showcases a different side of India’s first Prime Minister.

It was taken by India’s first and for a long-time, only woman photojournalist, Homai Vyarawala, who passed away yesterday.  She may have lived alone in anonymity, but through her pictures, she captured the social and political life of a nation in transition. From Nehru to Mountbatten to the Dalai Lama entering India, her photographs became iconic symbols — they evoked a story of pre and post-independent India.

Vyarawala, who was awarded the Padma Vibhushan last January, died at a private hospital in Vadodara at the age of 98.

Her work that spanned four decades included both the euphoria of the Independence as well as the disillusionment with undelivered promises in the new nation state.

She was the only professional woman photojournalist between 1939 and 1970, as she survived the male-dominated field, making her presence more significant because of the codes of this profession that largely continue to exclude women even today. [ Continue reading… ]

BBC: First India woman photo-journalist Homai Vyarawala dies

She photographed such events as the departure of Lord Mountbatten from India, and the funerals of Mahatma Gandhi and former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri.

She also covered the visits of Queen Elizabeth II and former US President Dwight Eisenhower to India.

Ms Vyarawala told her interviewers that her favourite subject was Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister.

"Nehru used to get surprised whenever he saw me at his functions and used to remark ‘You too have come here?’," she told the Press Trust Of India news agency in an interview. [ Continue reading… ]

India Today: Homai Vyarawalla, grand old dame of Indian photojournalism, passes away

Vyarawalla’s death is an end of an era in photography, said some of those who were lucky enough to have interacted with the grand old lady, who lived by herself in Gujarat’s Vadodara city.

"(I am) sad to know of the demise of Homai Vyarawalla, India’s first woman photo journalist. Received her blessings at Vadodara Sadbhavana fast recently," tweeted Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

"I have been inspired by the nature of her works. Such documentation does not happen today. There was a spontaneity about her work, which required courage in those days," 78-year-old Nemai Ghosh, movie maestro Satyajit Ray’s chronicler, photographer and friend said of Vyarawalla. [ Continue reading… ]

Times Of India: Photographer Homai Vyarawalla dies

"It is because of personalities like Homai Vayarawalla that women have been inspired to take up professions like photo-journalism and journalism. Look at Barkha Dutt (of NDTV) now. Before Vyarawalla, one could hardly imagine a woman reporting from and capturing situations in remote areas of the country," writer, curator and art critic Ina Puri said.

Vyarawalla who started by clicking photographs as a teenager, took a number of memorable photographs during her career and was well known for taking shots of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru smoking a cigarette. Nehru was her favourite subject. [ Continue reading… ]

Full and extensive coverage of the news here.


  1. Kimnegi

    Salute to her passion and really a tragic moment for the nation.

  2. xyz

    May Her Soul Rest in Peace.Amen.

  3. xyz

    May Her Soul Rest in Peace.Amen.

  4. xyz

    May Her Soul Rest in Peace.Amen.