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Photographic memories in Dadar

Having been around for nearly as long as independent India, India Photo Studio in Dadar has innumerable memories. We invite its owner to hit flashback mode

The Partition changed many lives forever. The Thakker family’s changed too, when Jethalal H Thakker and his family packed their bags and moved from Karachi to Mum-bai. Here, he founded the India Photo Studio in April 1948. In existence for the last 67 years, the studio has remained unchanged. “Even the furniture has not been changed”, reveals Vimal Thakker, the 62-year-old son of JH Thakker, who joined the studio in 1972 after completing his graduation. Post his father’s demise, Thakker Jr has taken charge of the studio. He adds, “Photography was all my father knew, so getting into the same line of business after coming to India, was a natural choice.”

A photograph of the late Jethalal H Thakker, founder of India Photo Studio
A photograph of the late Jethalal H Thakker, founder of India Photo Studio

On entering the studio at Dadar, it’s difficult to miss the frames of famous stars that adorn the walls, doors and ceiling as well. Amitabh Bachchan, Madhu-bala, Meena Kumari, Madhuri Dixit — all these icons have been photographed by Thakker Sr. “Every celebrity photo that you see here has been clicked by us,” shares Thakker Jr, with a sense of obvious pride. This was because his father undertook a lot film publicity work; back in the day, Dadar was a hub for the film industry. However, he, stopped accepting film work owing to delay in payments.

Vimal Thakker with a field camera that was used by his father, JH Thakker, to shoot some of Bollywood’s biggest stars. PICS/BIPIN KOKATE
Vimal Thakker with a field camera that was used by his father, JH Thakker, to shoot some of Bollywood’s biggest stars. Pics/Bipin kokate

Then and now
India Photo Studio, complete with light banks, dark room, processing room and wet area, along with changing rooms and sitting area, has come a long way from hand painting black and white images and manually developing the pictures to now using computers and photo editing softwares. “It was difficult to adapt to the digital age, but there was no choice,” he says. The studio that employed 50 people in the 1950s, now has just three, thanks to the digitisation of photography. He also states that it is not monetarily viable to employ such a big staff in today’s times. Although he has embraced the digitisation of photography, he observes, “Youngsters are very good with editing and the software but they lack the basic photographic knowledge and skills.”

(From left) Vimal Thakker with his staff, Madhukar Bandre and Sandeep Vaidya, who have been with the studio for over two decades
(From left) Vimal Thakker with his staff, Madhukar Bandre and Sandeep Vaidya, who have been with the studio for over two decades

Along with providing various services like portrait, industry and wedding photography, this studio also undertakes restoration and archival work. Old photographs can be restored at the studio and preserved for posterity. Many of the studio’s older patrons bring photographs for restoration. However, Thakker feels that the current generation doesn’t really care for these things. “They don’t have the time or desire to come to photo studios for shoots. Earlier, families would drop by on Sundays for photo-shoots. It was a recreational activity. Such things are incomprehensible to the selfie generation.”

Time: 10 am to 7.30 pm (closed on Mondays)
At: 200, Dr Ambedkar Road, near Chitra Cinema, Dadar (E).
Call: 24112393

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