Lala Deen Dayal in ‘A Short Account of my Photographic Career’ tells us that he was born in 1844 at Sardana, near Meerut. He would, therefore, have been thirteen at the time of the Mutiny; and in the thick of it. A decade later, he was a draughtsman in the Secretariat Office at Indore, and had attracted the attention of the Maharaja Tukoji Rao II. It was the beginning of a life of princely and patrician patronage. In 1874, encouraged in his study of photography by one of the ‘swells’ of the Indian Civil Service, he was chosen to take a group-photograph of the Viceregal Party when Lord Northbrook- that great friend to Edward Lear- was on a visit to Indore. The next year, also at Indore, the Prince of Wales and his entourage patiently posed for him. “Later, I accompanied Sir Henry Daly on his tour of Bundelkhand, photographing views and native chiefs. After his retirement, I was patronized by the successive Agent Governor Generals of the Central India Agency, and in 1882/3 I travelled throughout Bundelkhand with Sir Lepel Griffin… these photos were afterwards brought out in book form… printed in the autotype process permanently by the ‘Autotype Company’ of London at the expense of the Government.”

“In 1885, I was able to secure a group of H.E. Lord Dufferin, Marquis of Ava (the Viceroy) with Sir Lepel Griffin; and having done some photographic work for Lady Dufferin, which was to her entire satisfaction, I was subsequently appointed photographer to H.E. the Viceroy.” At this point, Lala Deen Dayal decided to retire from government service and dedicate himself to professional photography. “During my travels, I came to Hyderabad, receiving great patronage from the Nizam… I also found that Secunderabad was the largest military station in India. The above facts induced me to build a studio there for portrait work.”

At the end of the 18th century, the old tradition of Mughal miniature painting was giving way to new forms more acceptable to European taste, as the British took over the gorgeous East in fee. By then, Dayal was a respected member of the Nizam's inner circle; he or a member of his family attending each weekly durbar. There were the perennial hunts, parades, and tours of the Nizam's dominions; and when he came home, it was to a large and growing family. In 1910 he died; to be followed two years later by Mahbub Ali Khan. With the passing of their patron, hard times set in for the family. Osman Ali Khan, the new Nizam, was not interested in photography; nor was he known for his generosity. In 1919 Gyan Chand died without sons old enough to take an active part in the business.

All this happened sixty or seventy years ago. It has taken that length of time for collectors to realize that early photography was an art form worthy of their attention. This is the first exhibition given over entirely to the work of a single 19th century Indian photographer. It is, we think, the first in England, to illustrate with original photographs the vanished Anglo-Indian world of the last quarter of the 19th century. We have chosen Lala Deen Dayal not because he was primus inter pares but because he was unique. He replaced the painter as a functionary of a prince's court at precisely that moment when fashion and philosophy began to dictate that aristocratic and upper class Indians should acquire the status symbols of socially progressive Victorians, like the Cannings and the Dufferins, whom they admired.

That infinite capacity for taking pains which we note in all Dayal's work, contributed to his success as a portrait photographer. Indeed, the courtier in him demanded that it should be so. Yet, educated as a draughtsman, he had first turned to the camera to capture his country's architectural heritage. He had trained his eye to isolate the poignant factor in every scene. He went on to document more diverse aspects of Indian and British society than any 19th century European photographer. Despite the limitations of his equipment - the need for example, to 'freeze' the moving parts of his picture for several seconds at a time - he alone was capable of posing up to 300 people on a 10 by 12 inch plate. The elegance of the image was carefully planned, but the effect was deceptively natural. Looking back, we can see that his oeuvre is a microcosm of that Anglo-Indian world which was at its apogee in the thirty years before the Western powers decimated their youth and began to tear themselves apart in 1914.

India’s Deen Dayal, Britain’s William Henry Talbot and America’s Eastman were united in interest although separated by distance. They had photography in common. What is more, contemporaries as they were, each of this trinity turned out to be an immortal in his own right.

When Talbot, the discoverer of the science of photography, was presenting his first definitive paper on the subject to the Royal Society in London in 1839, he could have little known that within five years there would be born a bonny boy in Sardhana near Meerut destined to do his discovery proud. Yet, that is what happened. More. The Sardhana boy so excelled as a photographer that royal society waited to present itself individually and in groups before his camera Interestingly the way he related to Eastman is on a different scale. Deen Dayal was already 44, a seasoned photographer and come a long way from Sardhana by the time the American had made his Kodak No .1 in 1888. Reasonable it is to conclude that Dayal’s achievements in photography had not depended on Eastman’s roaring successes in the field of camera manufacture. Did Dayal make his own cameras? Possibly. Because it is known that he got some lenses specially made for his use and British suppliers looked upon his orders as a privilege, taking care to inscribe them with the legend ‘specially made for Raja Deen Dayal.' Few Indians could have commanded the respect of the then British overlords so. This is all the more significant when we look at another comedy of history. The same British rulers who had so brutally quelled India’s first war of independence in 1856- the Great Indian Mutiny- were ten years later offering themselves to Dayal to be ‘shot’. As cameras then were not made for the trigger happy set as now, Dayal’s slow but precisely timed exposures must have been methodical, premeditated ‘killings’ of a sort to leave the titled hoipollai merry. From Queen Victoria down to the lowliest lord of the Mrelur who dressed in tails, wore a top hat and sported a monocle, the British ‘badralok’ of Dayal’s era in Indian photography just loved such a killing at his hands.

Laughter aside, one serious question: As dry-plate photography did not come on the world scene until 1873 and the first roll-film was not produced until 1884, how did Dayal achieve the success he did? Talbot’s paper to the Royal Society was entitled, ‘Some Account of the Art of Photogenic Drawing, or the process by which Natural Objects may be made to delienate themselves without the aid of the artists’ 'pencil' . This self-delineation can be achieved, if said, by an exposure to light intensified by a lens and fixed by chemicals. Tracing how he got the germ of an idea for making this process possible, Talbot spoke about the ‘camera obscura’ principle, known to the West from the XVth century. This was no more than the phenomenon of a wall in a darkened room by say throwing up inverse images of a street scene through some slit in a closed door or window. How to cause such natural images to imprint themselves durably and remain fixed on paper was the thesis of Talbot’s talk. Younger to photography by just five years and older than Kodak No.1 by forty-four, how Dayal succeeded the way he did is not known.

What is known is that, in the years between scientific exposition and popular practice, Dayal grew up professionally to strike up thousands of tantalizing graphic equations between himself on the one side and, on the other, the torrid Indian Sun, some chemically treated plate glass and the objects or persons he viewed from under a jet-black hood through the rear flap of his unquestionably trunk-sized wooden camera with lenses large enough to serve as locks on the front door of a treasury. That each of these equations is a permanent visual statement of an evocative epigram in light and shade and emulsion, much more vivid in image than the sale reality it freezes into life is the mute tribute beyond all value to Dayal. For he achieved what he did at a time when photography had no electricity, no electronics, no ultrasonics, nor all that latter-day paraphernalia of flash, din-rated films, built in aperture and depth-of-field settings and light meters to speak of. Edison had not come out with his electric bulb until 1879.

Today subatomic physics, space technology and medical research, among others, are so dependent on photography. Did Dayal realise the potential of photography for posterity when he traded in a lucrative career in civil engineering for professional photography? And this at a time of transition when India had just about come directly under the British Crown from the East India Company, the first rail-roads yet to be laid, the roads built and the bridges constructed in a country as large as all Europe? Dayal appears not to have thrown in his towel in vain Because subsequent events show he was a visionary, the practising prophet of photography in India, its high priest and peerless patriarch to all of which the Nizami title of ‘Raja’ or ;Prince’ adds but little.

If the English lords and ladies in India vied with each other to be photographed by Deen Dayal during his lifetime, nearly seventy years after his demise it was given to their cohorts in Britain to discover in Dayal’s photography an art form worthy of appreciation. Late in the fall of 1977, an exhibition was held in London of Dayal’s photographs with the imposing title ‘Photography in India during the 19th century.’(Incidentally, India Office Library and Records has some collection of Dayal’s work as referred to in its report for the year 1974) As this exhibition was given over entirely to the work of Deen Dayal, it is implied recognition that 19th Century photography in India is just one individual’s - Deen Dayal’s. The exhibition aroused a good deal of interest in Britain because, for the first time after the transfer of power in 1947, the erstwhile rulers of India caught vignettes of all that Queen Victoria and her successors had wrought in this country in pomp and pageantry and their emulation by Indian Princes and potentates on the one hand and the utter poverty and emaciation of the mass of the people on the other. The exhibition drew good media support, notably from the ‘Sunday Times’. Here again, the emphasis was not so much on the vanished world of 19th century British India but on the uniqueness of Deen Dayal as a photographer. Despite the limitation of his equipment and the necessity for giving exposures lasting several seconds at a stretch, Dayal alone was capable of capturing up to 300 people on a 10’’x 12’’ plate. The elegance of the image was carefully planned, but the effect was deceptively natural.

How did Dayal succeed? That is the unanswerable question even now. The ‘Photography Annual’ 1979 also carries a potpourri of Dayal’s work as a curtain-raiser on a book soon to be published in New York containing 120 duotone plates of the partriarch’s work with text by Clark Worswick. However, what the Annual says about 50,000 of Dayal’s negatives is not to be construed as true but only as an indication of Dayal’s output. That some of his priceless negatives are lost owing to several factors is undoubtedly true. Glimpses of the life and times of Lala Deen Dayal are perhaps best given in his own words if only to bring out the utter humility and dedication of the man. The Nizam’s regard for Dayal was that personal and high for very soon he was treated on par with the nobles of the court with the courtesy title of ‘Raja’ having been conferred on him. Although a Jain, Dayal related to the Nizam as ‘Raja’ Musavir Jung’- the enterprising warrior of photography. In fact, the Nizam was taken up with this court photographer that he composed a couplet about Dayal in Urdu to read:

“In the art of picture-making, skill surpassing all, A master of masters is Lala Deen Dayal.”

Encouraged by the prestige and patronage he had earned by his association with the highest councils in the land at that time, Raja Deen Dayal set about thinking of the future, his family, posterity and the people in general. The result was that by 1886 he had he had established some of the largest photographic Studios in Bombay, Indore and Secunderabad. These studios proved to be so highly competitive with their European counterparts in the country that there was not only a flight of custom into his studios but defection of personnel from Bourne and Shepherd and Johnston & Hoffman. In fact, The Bombay studio of Dayal was manned by European operators with names like Wartenburg and Schultz. For 2 decades the Bombay studio flourished and recorded some of the finest views of Bombay at the turn of century in addition to classic portraits of its gentry.

Deen Dayal’s sons Gyanchand and Dharam Chand, were considered too young and inexperienced. Dharam Chand pre-deceased his father in 1904 and the Bombay studio was closed. When the patriarch of Indian photography joined the ranks of the immortals, the business fortunes devolved upon Gyan Chand. Following his death in 1919, his son Ami Chand has continued the business with the precious talent, humility and dedication of his illustrious grandfather-Raja Deen Dayal. At this writing in 1979 it is very much Ami Chand’s Diamond Jubilee, being celebrated as a small token of tribute not only to his pithamaha but the pithamaha of Photography in India.

At a time when the art of Photography is attracting so much attention in India, it is interesting to observe that at least one of the Native practitioners maintains his place in the first rank of the profession. Lala Deen Dayal of Indore is known throughout India as one of the best photographers we have, and his recent appointment as photographer to His Excellency the Viceroy was thoroughly deserved. A portrait of Lord Dufferin is one of the latest of his productions and is one of the best photographs of his Excellency that we have seen and would compare favourably with the aptest achievements of our best known European artists. Another of the reception of the Viceroy by His Highness the Maharajah Holkar, the group comprising Sir M. Wallace, Lord William Beresford, and other members of the staff, is also extremely good, the likeness in each case being true and clearly defined, and the arrangements showing an artists eye for composition and effect. The Maharajah is seated with the Viceroy, and is surrounded by his ministers and officials, and this whole makes a remarkably telling picture.

It is not however in portraiture alone that Lala Deen Dayal excels. His extensive series of views is a monument of artistic skill and patient labour, and no better memorial of a visit to the country could be commended to the notice of the traveler. Those in search of an appropriate present, wherewith to delight and astonish their friends at home, would do well to invest in a set of the wonderful pictures of Agra, Delhi, and the old world cities of Central India, as well as of our own modern English cities and of our favourite hill-resorts. Nothing could convey a more vivid idea of the beauties and wonders of " the land we live in" - of its ancient civilization, and the lavish memorials of its departed splendour; its richly diversified vegetation, and its crowds of mingled races; the solitary temple or masjid, deserted , save by the lingering devotee; the busy bazaars and melas and bathing ghats; the sacred rivers, the rock cut temples, and the communities of sacred apes; the palaces, the forts, the zenanas, the tombs, the beautiful lakes, - all the striking scenes and incidents of the panorama with which we are familiar, and which yet possess for us an exhaustless interest. Here too the East and the West meet, and the prosaic works of utility find a place. The great architectural legacy of the Moghul Empire is surrounded by the achievements of modern engineering science - the canals, roads, railways, and bridges, which are the substantial gifts of English practicality and enterprise. As illustrations of the various stages in the historical development of India, these photographs have a very special interest, while they will be universally admired for their artistic beauty.

India is prodigal of subjects for the lens, and it may fairly be said that no artist has made more of his opportunities than Lala Deen Dayal, who has roamed over the whole of Northern India, in pursuit of the beautiful, the characteristic and the picturesque. He has levied rich tribute in the divinely dowered capital of Akbar, and he has gathered many a gem in Delhi, Secundra, Gwalior, Bundelkhand, Rewa, Ajmere, Jaipur, Alwar, Bhurtpur, Deeg Bhopal, Sanchi, Malwa and Indore. On the west he has carried his search as far as Bombay, while on the East he is quite at home in the city of Palaces investing many of our familiar views with quite a novel charm. From an artistic standpoint the views of Darjeeling are by no means the least remarkable. The photographing of aerial effects has made wonderful progress in the past few years and the specimens of Darjeeling from the Indore studio are deserving of high praise. They are delicately shaded and present a bright luminous appearance, the heaped-up masses of clouds and the trailing diaphanous shroud of mist being clearly and yet slightly defined.

In any such collection, as a matter of course, one naturally turns to the views of Agra, and the artist is seen at his best in his photographs of the famous buildings. The Taj Mahal has been happily described by Sir William Hunter as a 'dream in marble designed by Titans and finished by jewellers'; and here we are able to admire at once the beautiful balance of this peerless edifice and the exquisite details of its decoration. The view taken from the river is perhaps the most successful attempt that has yet been made to grapple with the difficulty of presenting to the eye the whole mass of the building without dwarfing its vast proportions. Groups of bathers in the foreground serve to guide the eye and the towering mass of the dome rises against the sky with all the mingled grace and boldness of the original. The Pearl Mosque in the Agra Fort is also a grand photograph and those who here behold the Moti Masjid for the first time will readily assent to the judgment which pronounces it the purest and the lovliest house of prayer in the world. Another gem is the interior of the bath chamber in the Agra Fort Palace. The tracery with which the walls are entirely covered is a thing to create enthusiasm even amid the treasures of Agra, and it is here photographed in a strong side- light which brings into a relief of silver-like clearness every leaf and tendril of the magnificent design.

ln a portrait attributed to his son Dharam Chand, Raja Deen Dayal positions himself in a Victorian chair. In his lap, the legendary photographer holds the moon-shaped glasses through which he recorded the velveteen veneer of skins and the fragile heads of noblemen, images that threaten constantly to slip off the edge of a country famed for its cotton, spices and slaves. It was only seven months after the Frenchman Louis Daguerre presented the daguerreotype camera to the world in 1839, that the device arrived on the counters of Calcutta’s photographic firms. For the next 30 years, photography was to be an amateur pastime: but after the Suez Canal opened in 1869, the trickle of photographic equipment broadened to a flow, and created a large and growing clientele. Deen Dayal (1844-1905) learnt to use the camera by trial and error. A government servant, he began his distinguished career with the cultivation of a British clientele: a circumstance he owed to his portrait of Lady Dufferin, whose favour he won by keeping the light so soft that her wrinkles did not show up. Just as he obliterated Lady Dufferin’s wrinkles with native cunning , he adapted the alien recording device to his own conditions of land and light, As Court Photographer to the Nizam of Hyderabad, he was honoured with the title of Raja in 1894: at the same time, Queen Victoria bestowed the Royal Warrant upon him. On the surface, Deen Dayal’s curriculum vitae suggests a person who travelled an almost straight path of adequate compromise with existing circumstances. How then did he create spaces of dissent within the feudal-colonial framework? Like his fellow photographers of that period, Deen Dayal undertook bumpy bullock cart rides to sites of archaeological interest. Like them, he travelled heavy, weighed down by the tonnage of tripod stands and ‘darkroom tents’ in which the wet collodion plates had to be coated afresh before each exposure. Unlike some of his fellow photographers, he was not, however, interested in merely capturing exotic Indian locales or cataloguing diverse ethnic types to assist the ethnographic schemes of the colonial administration. If he survived the dogma of western compositional principles dictated by colonial taste, it was because he retained an artistic affiliation with the miniature and the bazaar traditions. As a kind of bilingual practitioner, Deen Dayal switched with ease from western to indigenous conventions, but his best work was done in the ‘tainted’ native mode. This mode largely denied the post-Renaissance principle of perspective, and flattened its picture space. To this convention belongs Deen Dayal’s Afsar Jung with a collection of animal skins, Hyderabad, 1898. This is no static image of a man in breeches prodding a tiger skin with his rifle butt. Here, the trophied skins flattened on the wall assume fierce animation, branching out in different directions, filling every inch of the space. They diminish the two hunters in the picture into pygmies: decentred, Afsar Jung himself is reduced to a titular head, rendered superfluous. Blurring into one another, the trophies become the hunters, and the hunters are diluted into apparitions. Far from symbolising the solidity of power, the frame turns fluid, swimming like a surreal skin over one’s eyes. In another frame devoted to shikar, one sees Lady Hardinge returning from a cheetah hunt on a bullock cart. The animals are harnessed in suspended animation, the rider looks away. Next to him are seated four ladies, one of whom dons a dark hunting habit. Behind this woman in black stands a native in startling white clothes. He appears so close to those sitting in the cart that his feet don’t rest on the ground. Resisting gravity, he floats in his circumscribed space, threatening to vanish from the top of the frame which edges his head. Outside the cart stands another native, a footman in livery. His pose reminds one of a quixotic conquistador exhibiting his imaginary fortunes. The cart seems to stationed on a sloping, uneven road, hemmed in by a low parapet. Deen Dayal sets up a field of multiple foci, in which to place his hydra-headed subjects. Their gazes wander, sometimes hitting us in the eye, sometimes staring past. And the photographer is not the only one who participates in this multiple viewing; propped upon the low parapet, is a bleached face, naked, sun burdened. A prisoner of Deen Dayal’s darkroom departures, this native face holds fort at the edge of colonial experience. Its gaze is persistent, it cannot be muted. The restlessness of Deen Dayal’s subjects is significant: it signifies the bewilderment of the early victims of the lens. They are not yet sitters, have not yet fully learnt the protocol of pose and behaviour of the proper photographic subject. In theatre critic Anuradha Kapur’s words, they are trapped in “the middle ground between hypostatised icon and realistic portrayal.” Although they gaze sombrely outwards like icons, although they are composed like figures in tableaux, argues Kapur, they remain “individuals, with individual peculiarities; the placement of hands, the tilt of a turban, the fall of a drape, make singular, not typical figures” Their confusion is betrayed in the dispersed gestures of their anatomy; even princes and feudal lords stare at Deen Dayal’s lens, stripped of their authority by the foreign instrument, bemused, anxious, vulnerable. It is a moment of painful historical transition. Deen Dayal’s focus is never on the figure of authority; he seeks out the fugitive, the bystander, the native attendant at the seams of history’s radiant backcloth. Like their creator, these native attendants rehearsing their borderline roles in successive photographs, are threshold figures. They simultaneously record and contest the Indian and alien modes of visual representation, as Deen Dayal did. That is why the stories at the crowded seams continue to fascinate us today, while the tales of the heroes at the centre have faded away like their short-lived fiefdoms. Deen Dayal’s tendency to make the primary patron invisible illuminates Colonel D.Robertson, Resident in Gwalior at a picnic, 1895. Robertson is only one among the many faces in this loose assembly of picnickers. Scattered, yet bracketed in the black-and-white quardrilateral, the picnickers look like victims of arrested development. A woman smiles as she poses coyly with her umbrella. Bordering her Victorian attire is a sculpted temple danseuse in a sensuous tribhanga pose; this latter detail is so small that it could easily escape one’s sight. Yet, it is this compressed detail which subtly subverts this exotic picnic on the grass. Off-centre, a hat hangs miraculously, hugging a relief-covered wall. The imperial heads that wore such hats have rolled off but the headless hats remain suspended in mid-air, waiting for new wearers.

Between Meerut and Mahboob, stood the brilliant career of Lala Deen Dayal. Beyond distance, Meerut was a dot on the 19th century cartograph of Hindustan. Mahboob, patriarch of sovereign Hyderabad dominated way beyond his royal dominion, the largest, wealthiest and technologically most advanced state in princely India.

Aged 40, celebrated, Lala Deen Dayal arrived at Fateh Maidan during an awesome parade, snapped an image of Mahboob, the most flamboyant and profligate of the seven Nizams that ruled the grandest reign Muslims ever had after the Moghal empire. Diligently the very next day following that incredible parade, Deen Dayal presented just one photograph among the numerous he had taken painstakingly, to His Highness, Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, in 1884.

Deeply struck by the excellence of that single image, and Mahboob had his share of megalomania, he elevated Lala Deen Dayal as a life peer. Newly titled Raja Musavir Jung, the talented photographer from Sardhana in Meerut, ever cognizant of his humble roots, simply used only the first of his knighted names. Since that venerable year till today the greatest photographer of India is still remembered as Raja Deen Dayal.

Mahboob Ali Pasha completed his homework on Lala Deen Dayal meticulously, much before the dramatic announcement at court that a photographer, virtually unknown to Hyderabad's patricians had suddenly received a knighthood of the House of Asaf Jah. Lord Dufferin had sent a letter about Lala Deen Dayal to Mahboob. Besides, the reputation of Deen Dayal had preceded him to Hyderabad.

Between 1866, when Lala Deen Dayal began photographing in earnest as a youthful professional, and 1884, he had had 18 years for honing his skills. His photographed results, meantime catapulted him to proverbial fame and fortune. Never one to rest on past laurels, Deen Dayal who was a pious and devout Jain, worked assiduously at his métier. It was this vast and incomprehensibly astonishing body of photographs that had convinced the British establishment at Calcutta, as well as Whitehall at London, that it was opportune a moment to present the Empress of India, Her Majesty Queen Victoria, with an album of photographs taken by Lala Deen Dayal.

The photographs of Raja Deen Dayal portray the geometry of Hyderabadi society, the chemistry can only be retrieved by compassionate understanding, a keen intelligence, removed from shackles of religion. Still Raja Deen Dayal entered an otherwise unchartered quarter- the phantom world of Mahboob Ali Pasha. Note that even when relaxed, Mahboob hardly ever smiles in Deen Dayal's images. Poised? Indeed he directed, choreographed and set a stage around himself. Ordinarily such histrionics would have emerged as wooden and lifeless. Deen Dayal brought a magical skill, his camera. At that time taking photographs required more time than it does presently. He caught the moods of Mahboob. Introspective, ponderous, even when seated among visiting dignitaries, any number of Queen Victoria,s brood, the pathetic Romanovs, Mahboob was lost in a world of his making. All the others, Mahboob's own entourage,his close military chief of staff, Sir Afsar-ul-Mulk, have to be masked out. Isolated we begin to grasp a haunting Mahboob, whose passion for latest fashions, weakness for women, propensity for bloodletting sports, love for the citizenry of Hyderabad, failed to assuage his melancholy. Was Mahbob in search of something that neither the pleasures of the flesh could satisfy nor the treasures of his realm acquire?

Mahboob surely must have chuckled in private that he was three years ahead of Queen Victoria, more so the Whitehall in London, the source of political power. Raja Deen Dayal received a royal warrant of appointment from Her Majesty in 1887. Mahboob elevated Lal Deen Dayal as "Raja" in 1884. Here we part royal company because Deen Dayal knew how his bread needed being buttered. He was self made and self-reliant and his infrastructure depended entirely on his skills.

At Roorkee where he graduated first-class from Thomson Civil Engineering College, he scored 258 out of 260, completed in three years, a course requiring five. Then he clocked in as a draughtsman at the public works department at Indore. Maharaja Tukoji Rao II of Indore, attracted to the excellence of photographs created by Deen Dayal, catalysed his success. The dazzling Jain lad from remote Sardhana scaled the social ladder not by kowtowing but by the superb quality of his photographs. His range included archaeological sites, architectural marvels, portraits of people from the mightiest of the land, the movers and shakers, down to the hapless tribals, the have-nots. To each monument Lala Deen Dayal brought an unusual perspective. From a people who created and coined the noblest of our words, "Ahimsa" millennia before the Mahatma employed it as the lynchpin for his silent army of peaceful resistance against the Raj, Lala Deen Dayal introduced a distinctly Jain approach. Humanism prevails. Trees, the living, not humans alone, quietly washing dirty linen at some bend in a river, but goats, dogs entered the amazing repertoire of this, the most beautiful of all Indian photographers.

An army of patrons vied and succeeded in extending their patronage to the handsome Jain youth with a camera and his team of assistants. As a rule until he died Deen Dayal spent 18 hours daily, taking photographs, developing them, organizing surveys for documenting the geography, the architecture, the ruins, the people of his beloved India. Invariably he prepared albums, then and now, the most sought after because they contained the perfect balance between the exotic and the romantic, the beautiful and the bizarre that makes India gorgeously Indian.

Appointed "Court Photographer" at Hyderabad by the sixth Nizam, Raja Deen Dayal finally settled down at Secunderabad. Simultaneouly he had studios engaged in thriving practice at Bombay and Indore. For women who preferred purdah the ever astutely business minded Raja Deen Dayal created a zenana studio. The new enterprise brought in more money since the zenana studio opened in 1892. These were the twilight years but 50 photographic specialists worked at Secunderabad.

Lord Curzon, renowned for restoring the Taj Mahal, beginning the Archaeological Survey of India, committed to preserving Indian antiquities in situ, visited Mahboob,s Hyderabad in 1903. His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, visited Hyderabad in 1905. During these two visits, Raja Deen Dayal outperformed himself. He recorded for posterity a stupefying 5,000 photographs. Numbers hardly mattered; virtually each photograph had his stamp of excellence. Supervising quality control at his studio in Secunderabad seldom jeopardized his artistic ambitions nor attention to the most minute detail hamper his style. Personally Raja Deen Dayal transcended photography as a visual document, enhancing its stature as an art. When he started out landscape painting in oil on canvas was the norm but demand and means outstripped supply. A number of European, particularly British artists such as the Daniells, Edward Lear visited Hyderabad. Raja Deen Dayal encompassed the yearning for Indian images. At Hyderabad, where palaces were open to a few, closed for many, there were photographic albums available at Raja Deen Dayal's. One had merely to name a palace, the encyclopaedic Deen Dayal had an album for sale; Bashir Bagh, Falaknuma, Chow Mahalla. Terrific inside-outside glimpses of a rare world of wealth and serendipity came to life for those never privileged to tread within an elitist environment, where time hung less obviously than crystal chandeliers. Today only at a few public institutions abroad and at some, here in India, or at private bibliophiles like Mohammed Safiullah, does one derive the vicarious pleasure of marvelling at a bygone age. Invited guests on the other hand, received Raja Deen Dayal's albums, either from His Highness the Nizam's government, or members of the Paigah whose passion for architecture and landscaping was the envy of their like in Hindustan.

Among all princes of Hyderabad, one stood out for his largesse, his passion for calligraphy, his love for the city: Maharajah Kishen Pershad; prime minister of Hyderabad and the most learned courtier. Raja Deen Dayal has left us with first rate portraits of Kishen Pershad.

Change was evident. The first automobiles, manufactured in Europe, Great Britain and even distant USA rolled onto ships and entered Mahboob's ample garages in Hyderabad. Speed and automotive stylishness manoeuvred the handsome, the lavish eight-and-six horse drawn carriages, slightly out of fashion. Mahboob, like Sir Afsar, even Maharajah Kishen Pershad, retained an abiding passion for horse riding. But elegant Rolls-Royces, Mercedes Benzes in Hyderabad could have made real life Gatsbys awestruck. The dry climate of Hyderabad was ideal for automobiles. Cognisant of technology at any stage of its evolution manifesting its presence in royal Hyderabad, brought Raja Deen Dayal to the fore. Mind you his photographic equipment was cumbersome, if necessary. How he tracked to remote parts of India weighed down with responsibilities and real gear should seldom be overlooked.

In 1892, Raja Deen Dayal meticulously noted the date, May 22nd, the latest American technology arrived in Hyderabad. It was the new American treadle phonograph. The scene takes place beneath that most ubiquitous of Hyderabadi social tents suited for any function from marriages to funerals - the shamiana. Hyderabad attendants are attired in their Sunday best but stand indifferently to the telecommunications feat that would transform life for good. It is the Europeans, or Americans maybe, four white women dressed in white, complete with glorious top hats, whose animated response to sound, piped directly into their ears via a longish tube, that elicits our own reaction to this Deen Dayal image. A wondrous world was opening, while that - though unknown to Mahboob - of old Hyderabad succumbing to its own end. The record is momentous, Deen Dayal at his supreme best, temporarily, time stands still.

Raja Deen Dayal's years in Hyderabad were the most productive. He had made an exhaustive photographic documentation that would make his name renowned worldwide. Each art exhibition of the most orthodox, conservative, traditional art of India, the festivals of India included, contained pictures taken by Raja Deen Dayal. In India none dared hold a candle; abroad his renown was established. At the great American, World's Columbian Commission at Chicago of 1893, Raja Deen Dayal exhibited his remarkable photographs and was given an award. He documented the Delhi Durbar of 1903, when Nizam the sixth created such a diplomatic storm, refusing to alight from his royal train until an elephant was brought inside the train station, close to his carriage, to receive him. The parades, the pictures, the potentates, the princes, the patricians, the plebeians, the pantomimes, the plutocracy of Hyderabad, as well as of Hindustan featured in the encyclopaedic visual corpus of Raja Deen Dayal. Surely his soul must have reeled with pain at the sight of animals gunned down, then rearranged for the macho to ignobly seat themselves upon such four legged royalty of the jungle of Pakhal and Nirmal as the tiger. Birds and boars were similarly gunned down for the vicarious pleasure of those whose lives were empty and the forests filled.

We are left spellbound at every image achieved through the unique eyes, the gifted hands, and the Jain compassion with which Raja Deen Dayal bequeathed them to posterity. An unfortunate lack of foresight on the part of the state government, enabled the establishment at Delhi to purchase the largest collection of Raja Deen Dayal photographs and house them at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.

Also we may never learn the extent of personal rapport between the sixth Nizam and Raja Deen Dayal. Two individuals of such extremes are difficult to place in so harmonious a milieu as that of royal Hyderabad. During a hunting expedition no less, Mahboob had the eminent artist photographer on his mind to compose an Urdu couplet, that translates roughly as

"In the art of picture making, Skill surpassing all, A master of masters is Lala Deen Dayal."
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