Mahatma Gandhi and Jinnah in heated conversation. A well-known photograph recently attributed to Kulwant Roy.
The iconic historical photographs of a photo-journalist , anonymous until now, is finally acknowledged.Kulwant Roy (Born 1914, Lahore, then in India) was an Indian photographer. As the head of an agency named “Associated Press Photographs”, he was personally responsible for several iconic images of the Indian independence movement and the early years of the Republic of India.
Jawaharlal Nehru addresses the press in Delhi in 1947, shortly before Independence
Twice, over 24 years, Aditya Arya tried to open the boxes that photojournalist Kulwant Roy delivered to him, bit by bit, on his Lambretta scooter before he died, anonymous and impoverished, in 1984. But each time, he gave up. There was just too much in those boxes, explains Arya, an advertising photographer with a busy schedule.
Roy’s iconic images were reprinted many times, but credited to nameless stringers. But the 7,000-odd that Arya has digitally scanned since December 2007 when he finally began to unpack the legacy that Roy, a family friend, had bequeathed him, are glimpses of a historical treasure house.
Nehru with his grandson, Rajiv Gandhi, and his daughter, Indira Gandhi, in an undated photo from the Kulwant Roy Collection. (Aditya Arya Archives)
One part of the unfolding story is that several striking images, capturing scenes from the last years of British rule and the early decades after Independence, have turned out to be Roy’s work. : Gandhi and Jinnah arguing in 1939, Nehru and Ghaffar Khan strolling in Simla while Sardar Patel goes past in a palki, Nehru’s hand curled tenderly around grandson Rajiv’s neck and many more. The photographs have been reprinted over the decades but credited to nameless stringers. Only now are these omissions beginning to be repaired. Some of his treasures are reproduced here to make sure people know his name and his pictures.
Kulwant Roy is no longer with us but his historical works will remain and will be remembered as long as his photographed characters are remembered .
Acknowledgements : Herald Tribune, Yahoo group circulation, Aditya Arya.