RAJA DEEN DAYAL'S Photographic Salon in Hornby Road was illuminated last evening in honour of the Jubilee in a very tasteful and artistic style. An excellent photograph of the Queen Empress was placed over the main entrance, supported on either side by pillars of gas moons, and surmounted by a blazing star of intense brilliancy. The show attracted large crowds of sight-seers. The tower of the building was illuminated with coloured electric lights, and presented an interesting spectacle. In Raja Deen Dayal and Sons' Art Studio, a splendid arc had been erected for gas illumination, while below the arc a beautiful photograph of Her Majesty was suspended.


Lala Deen Dayal, our enterprising and eminent photographer, who had, ever since he had established himself in Secunderabad in that capacity, became the first favourite as it were with His Highness, has now become a member on the private staff of the Nizam on a salary of Rs.600/- per mensem, with retrospective effect, so that for six years, something like Rs.43,200 will be added on to the artist's own fortune which is ample. The ryot suffers in way by this liberality, since it is not to be a charge on the Divani revenues like the tremendous big salaries paid to so many unworthy men but wholly on His Highness' sarfakas income. He is the only photographer among natives who has obtained a European reputation in his line of business, having been thanked by the Czar and Kaiser alike of Russia and Austria, for the faultless finish of his work. If I am correct in my surmises he was for sometime a correspondent of the Graphic since that illustrated weekly became a daily one. As he likewise draws a pension from the British government, it is to be hoped that Lord Elgin's viceroyalty will be signalized by his distributing honours among such native gentlemen, who, like Lala Deen Dayal, had by their own unaided industry and personal merits, gained European reputations. In addition to holding these Imperial letters of thanks and other souvenirs, he is the possessor of many medals from every country in the world where exhibition was held. I congratulate Mr. Deen Dayal on his good luck, and hope most sincerely that long, long he may be spared to his family and his friends to enjoy his well earned pension from the Supreme Government as well as his mansab from the Nizam of the Deccan.


In the furnishing and decorations of the dressing rooms and indeed of the whole suite of rooms, the greatest taste has been bestowed, and it is scarcely too much to say that the enterprising proprietors have succeeded in endowing Bombay with the most splendidly equipped photographic salon in the East. The name of Raja Deen Dayal is sufficiently known in the world of photography to bespeak success for this extension of the operations of the firm. The head of the firm commenced his photographic career twenty three years ago at Indore, where he made a name for landscape and architectural photography of a quality hereto unknown in India. His work has been patronized and highly appreciated by successive Viceroys and by Civil and Military Officers of distinction in all parts of India, so much so that his studio at Secunderabad may almost be described as a gallery of contemporary portraits of the services in India. Two years ago the Nizam conferred upon Mr. Lala Deen Dayal the title of Raja Bahadur Mussavir Jung, with a hereditary mansab, in recognition of the work which he had done for the Hyderabad Court. He then retired from active work entrusting his business to his two sons and reserving his personal service for the Nizam.


An historic exhibition graces the Jehangir Art Gallery this week; nothing like it has been seen before. Comprising choice selections from the photographic oeuvre of Lala Deen Dayal (1844-1905), it holds a fantastic window open to turn-of-the-century India. It is not only a pictorial experience of the highest order but a truly emotional one also. Even though very few of us might have been living in the period so inimitably captured by the Lala's camera the strands forged here with a vanished era of picturesque opulence, pomp and pageantry and ease and grace are very real and imbued with the richest nostalgia.
Lala Deen Dayal came into his own after successfully photographing the Viceroy in 1885. The photographs on show, retrieved from a vast, but somewhat neglected collection, are all stylishly mounted and systematically categorized. Typical of a Victorian photographer, there are studies of military celebrations, group photographs, both of soldiers and civilians (with their families), and portraits projecting stunning personalities even when they are without a name.
Viewers should respond heartily to portraits such as that of cricketer Ranji. The princes and rajahs photographed by the master are legion.
A large section of the exhibition is devoted to the views of Bombay. All these really make the city live and viewers are bound to contrast its peace and lack of crowds with the imbroglio prevailing in our own times. There is a magnificent panoramic view of the urbs prima paralleled by another view recorded in more recent times.
Lala Deen Dayal produced his great work during a period of transition. The British presence was very real in his youth but the national consciousness began to assert itself when the 19th century yielded place to the 20th. Very subtle hints of this march of history can be garnered from this grand panorama of photographs.
On view are also mementos associated with the master, and the archaic flash gun of his times is bound to hold everyone's attention.
Sponsored by Grindlays Bank Limited this unique exhibition comes to us through the efforts of Hemlata Jain, great grand daughter of Lala Deen Dayal. No one, old or young, should miss this wonderful experience.


Pictorial Glimpse into those Bygone Days

What was life like in Bombay a century ago? Uncomplicated and relaxed, I should think. With the boundaries of the city extending only from Colaba to Dadar, and Radio, TV and films as yet unheard of the pace of life must have been gentle, with no one in a hurry to catch the 5.23 p.m. Borivili local to be home by "Sports Round Up" time.
A pictorial glimpse into those bygone days was provided by a recent exhibition of old photographs taken by Lala Deen Dayal in the period between 1880-1910. The photographs included portraits of royalty and other VIP's caught in informal moods while at Shikar or at play and there was an entire section devoted to Bombay.
Lala Deen Dayal was an eminent Indian photographer who came into his own in 1885 when he took some excellent photographs for the Viceroy Lord Dufferin, Marquis of Alva. Satisfied that he could take up photography, then a nascent art, as a career, Lala Deen Dayal retired from Government service.
More than 150 of the thousands of plates he had made in his 25 years of professional life were on display at the Jehangir Art Gallery and drew a terrific response. The neatly mounted and captioned photographs drew appreciation "oohs and aahs" and Bombayites were especially thrilled with the section on the city.
A highlight of the show was a big frame of a view of Bombay taken from the Rajabai Tower in 1898. The photograph taken by Deen Dayal shows a number of existing landmarks but in an entirely different perspective. In those days the St. Thomas Cathedral stood out as the tallest building for miles. But, as shown in another photograph taken in Nov. 1979 and positioned just below the other one the Cathedral is almost invisible, dwarfed as it is by other monolithic structures like the Stock Exchange and the OCS tower.
Other photographs also show the Royal glory of the city when British memsahibs had high tea along the Apollo Pier (in what is now the Victory Stall) and King George V was given a reception outside the Bombay Municipal Corporation. There is also a photograph of the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Prince of Wales Museum.

The Third Generation

One of the two sons of Lala Deen Dayal took up the business of photography and in turn three of his sons also entered the profession when they came of age. But only one of them, Ami Chand Deen Dayal showed interest in the technical aspect - the others looked after the business side of the growing business. The family had opened a studio in Secunderabad where Lala Deen Dayal had settled and another studio was running in Bombay.
Mr. Ami Chand is the only surviving grandson of Lala Deen Dayal and was present at the exhibition taking round guests and recounting anecdotes about each photograph. Now a venerable 78 and still active as a professional photographer, Mr Ami Chand is responsible for taking care of preserving the hundreds of plates taken by his grandfather.
Mr Ami Chand recalled the early days of his career when as a 15 year old he joined his father as an apprentice. Fourteen years later when his father died, Mr. Ami Chand, then a young and well trained 28 year old took over the business and how well he handled it was obvious by the way it grew.
Three of his sons and his only daughter Mrs. Hemlata Jain are all photographers though the latter has taken it up as a hobby only. A post graduate in International Relations from Standford, Mrs. Jain is now in an advertising firm in Bombay. The fourth and fifth generation is also taking up photography and the family has many studios in Secunderabad.


Pune Peeps into the Past

In a world of computerized cameras, flash guns and zoom lenses, one name comes back to haunt us from the past - Lala Deen Dayal, the high priest of Indian Photography who, 100 years ago, had the genius, vision and perseverance to create masterpieces - and history.
Deen Dayal stepped into the limelight in 1885, when his group photographs for the Viceroy H.E. Lord Dufferin, Marquis of Alva earned him sufficient rewards and recognition to retire from a lucrative career in civil engineering and spend his life behind the lens. His work caught the attention of the leading royal families and the Nizam of Hyderabad. Mir. Mahbub Ali Khan not only appointed him as his Court Photographer but also conferred upon him the title of 'Raja'. Lala Deen Dayal was also the only artist of his time who could boast of the ultimate patronage: by appointment, photographer to Queen Victoria.
Time stood still for the visitors who attended the exhibition of some of Lala Deen Dayal's work at Bal Gandharva Mandir Hall in Pune last week. The true-to-life quality of his photographs provided them with a rare pictorial glimpse into a bygone era - its genteel grandeur, gracious charm and picturesque opulence. Turn-of-the-century India in the smog free days of gas-lamps and hookah bearers, hansoms and elephant carriages, was theirs to witness at leisure.
The exhibits consisted of studies of military celebrations, group photographs, portraits of India's whiskered nobility as well as long forgotten views of the city of Pune.
The exhibition sponsored by Grindlays Bank, was inaugurated by the Governor of Maharashtra, Mr. Sadiq Ali, who said that the photographs offered an insight into the lives of the people of that time and were, therefore of immense historical value.


Bombay Nostalgia via photographs
Bombay seldom has an "even" to speak of other than a political or sporting one but the recent exhibition of photographs by Lala Deen Dayal (1844-1905) at the Jehangir Art Gallery was indeed a cultural occasion worthy to be so described. Grindlays deserves all the applause they can get for sponsoring so captivating a display of photographs of the British Colonial period - military groups, prominent citizens, street scenes, interiors, hotels, well known Bombay streets- all evocative of a city which on photographic evidence appears to have been quiet, clean, well ordered, well stocked with more than essentials, well built and unpolluted.
Few who belong to that period are alive today but no extravagant imagination is necessary to capture its flavour with the help of the Deen Dayal photographs. Even to the non-professional eye these are outstanding and their exposure to the public at a time when old photographs are being treasured and appreciated all over the world is most timely. The impression does percolate through to one, as the photographs are looked at, that Bombay was- as it still is in a different sense, - an extremely pleasant place to be in during the second half of the 19th century and the first few years of the 20th.
Three points deserve to be made. First such institutions as Grindlays which has shown what can be done can do very much more to organise exhibitions in art and architecture, particularly as relating to Western India and Bombay. Second arising from this, a proposal that logically follows is that these photographs on Bombay collected and published in a book form would be an appropriate tribute not only to an outstanding 19th century photographer but to a city which so many of us who live in it have become attached.
An album would be an invaluable contribution to the history of early photography in which pioneering studies began only a few years ago. Here is a meritorious project, expensive though it will be, for some institution or business house to support. All praise to Lala Deen Dayal's descendants for having preserved the negatives with such care. They have done themselves and us a great service.
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