Photography Project

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Photography Project

Vanmala (Susheeladevi Pawar) was the immensely popular heroine of Hindi and Marathi films such as Sikander (with Prithviraj Kapoor the hero), Vasantsena, Sharbati Aakhen, Shyamchi Aai (for which she won the President’s Gold Medal) and many others.

She was also deeply involved in the freedom movement along with stalwarts like Aruna Asaf Ali and Achyut Patwardhan.

Even at the age of 90 she is running a school to train children in traditional Indian arts and culture – The Haridas Kala Sansthan. She is deeply involved in several social causes and is a member of the Chhatrapati Shivaji National Memorial Committee, New Delhi.

Hers is an extraordinary life, lived with courage and determination.

We give below some photographs chosen from her albums where she is seen as the glamorous, modern woman of her times.

Narmada Bachao Andalan, 11th Sept 2001
Protest against Beauty Contest, Mumbai, 1987
Protest against female foeticide, Mumbai, 14th Nov 1986
Protest against female foeticide, Mumbai, 14th Nov 1986

Selected works of women photographers Sadhna Marwaha

'Stand' 1998, Singapore
'Bushed 2' November, 1998 Washington DC
'Through the blind' 1998, Washington DC

Sangli Event Details

The Women’s Wing of the Socialist Party had organised a conference on 2nd, 3rd, 4th of January 2003 at Sangli. Panna Roy Choudhury and Pallavi Narkar from SPARROW covered the event.

We give below a few photographs of the event and portraits done by Priya D’Souza, of some of the senior members of the Socialist Party.

On the dais, sitting L to R: Mrinal Gore, Anu Limaye, Vimal Garud, Sudha Vardhe, Pushpa Mayedeo at the conference at Deenanath Hall, Sangli
Morcha of Socialist Party Women going towards Savitribai Phule Chowk, Sangli
Anu Limaye
Kusum Kulkarni
Leela Chitale
Mai Kedari
Mrinal Gore
Pushpa Mayedeo
Sindhu Deshpande
Sindhu Kate
Sudha Vardhe
Vijaya Chowk
Vimal Garud

When mythological and social dramas made their appearance in the early decades of the twentieth century, the female roles were mostly played by men. In folk theatre too, men played important female characters. Given below are the photographs of some male actors dressed as women. Women have also played the male roles, specially in folk theatre and some of those photographs are also given below.

K.S. Ananthanarayanan was a professional theatre artiste in the Tamil theatre in the twenties and thirties. He had a drama troupe of his own called the Arya Gana Sabha in Madurai. The photographs above were taken in Karnatic Studio, Madras, 1931/ 32.

K. S. Anantanarayanan, a professional artiste.
Portrait of K. S. Anantanarayanan.

K. Mahadev and Narayan Naidu and Ramachandra Rao were actors in the theatre company of the legendary theatre personality in Kannada theatre, Gubbi Veeranna. These photographs were collected from the albums of Gubbi Veeranna’s daughter, Malathamma.

On the left, Ramachandra Rao as Kamala. On the right, Narayan Naidu as Mrinalini. Still from play 'Raja Bhakti', 1929.
K. Mahadev dressed as a woman in a play.
Narayan Naidu dressed as a woman.
Date: 22/03/2002 Place: Erode Photographer: L. Thangaraj

In folk theatre, men still play female roles. In the Kongu region of Tamilnadu, there are certain folk plays which are performed, of the legendary heroes of the region. Ponnar-Sankar is one such play. In the photograph above, two men are playing the roles of women in the play. On the left is Gopal and on the right is Raju in a crucial scene. This photograph was taken a few months ago in a demonstration performance.

There are many women who do both male and female roles in folk theatre. Given below are a few photographs of K. R. Ambika who has been doing male roles from the age of eleven and who continues to enact male roles even now at the age of 65. These photographs were taken during a recent demonstration performance given by her in a village in Karur district. The last photograph is of her father who was famous for playing female roles.

K. R. Ambika on right as Harishchandra in 'Harishchandra' play. Place: Melalakshmanampatti Date: 28/09/2002
K. R. Ambika on right as Madurai Veeran in 'Madurai Veeran' play. Place: Melalakshmanampatti Date: 28/09/2002
K. R. Ambika on right as Vedan (hunter) in 'Valli Thirumanam' play. On her right is her daughter K. R. Indira. Place: Melalakshmanampatti Date: 28/09/2002
K. R. Ambika on right as Vedan (hunter) in 'Valli Thirumanam' play. Place: Melalakshmanampatti Date: 28/09/2002
Thadikombu A Ponniah, Vijaya Studio, Dindigul.

SPARROW Holdings

  • 19309 Photographs
  • 7561 Advertisement & Media slides
  • 1275 Documentaries on women and by women in 7 languages & Popular Films in 11 languages
  • 6458 Books in 12 languages
  • 5154 Journal articles in 8 languages
  • 932 Music audio-cassettes/CDs
  • 684 Oral history recordings
  • 26 films SPARROW Production
  • 32187 Newspaper clippings in 8 languages
  • 2078 Brochures in 9 languages
  • 6101 Print visuals
  • 3711 Newspaper cartoons
  • 1772 Posters
  • 130 Calendars
  • 8000 Cartoons by Maya Kamath
  • 280 Private papers
  • 6 Video Recorded Conversations with artistes and activists in the Silver Jubilee Year

Silver Jubilee Celebration Programme

Literary Awards