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Of Gandhi, Raj and photography: A talk with K. Natrajan, the man who immortalized Bapu

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Photographer K. Natrajan who filmed Mahatma Gandhi’s first portrait has turned 92 years old. He had very healthy relation with the Father of the nation and the first prime minister of India pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru. NewsGram Staff Writer, Santosh Dubey had a brief talk with Kerla born Natrajan.

Santosh Dubey: You are famous for filming the first portrait of the Father of the nation. How do you feel?

K. Natrajan: Of course it’s a big achievement for me. Actually when I did that job, I was not aware that the single snap of Gandhiji will take me to this height. I have that portrait with me and that is really very nice. People came to me and purchased the pictures from me. I sold them at various prices like rupees 100, 200 and 300. I did not earn much money by selling the pictures but earned a lot of respect and credit. It’s really the matter of pride to me.

SD: When did you start photography?

KN: I started photography during the World War II. At that time photography and journalism were not a common practice. Before India’s independence, very few parties and functions were organized and thus photographers were not in demand. People had no money to pay for photography. Here I would like to add one thing that it was British officials who encouraged me to take pictures.

SD: You were working under British authority. Why did you resign?

KN: I was posted as secretariat assistant in British rule from 1942 to 1946. I resigned from that job because of their strict ruling style. At that point of time this thing had become very clear that this is our country and should be ruled by us only. Many more such senses evoked me and my countrymen which led me to resign from my job.

SD: Share something about the pre-independence days.

KN: When I talk of pre-independence days, I would like to say that those days were completely controlled by the British remote. Indians had no freedom of any kind. Apart from this, Indian kings and landlords were on the British side. They were helping Britishers to rule over India. Monetary value of those days was very less. We used to run our livelihood in just rupees five for the whole month. There was nothing in the name of facilities. We had to travel from one place to the other by feet or by bullock-cart. pre-independence days were much tougher than today.

SD: Few good things about the Britishers?

KN: There is no doubt that they were very civilized people. They taught us a lot of things. It was only after their arrival that India developed railways. They provided us with the postal facility. Our education system was not up to the mark. Britishers enhanced and modernized our education system. They even encouraged trade in our nation. So, I would like to say that they were very good people. They should have stayed here and worked for betterment. But, they did a mistake of developing the sense of ruling over India. Here they lacked.

SD: How was your relation with Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru?

KN: I was very close to Pandit Nehru. He was a person with modern thoughts. He had a habit of looking forward and never regretted the past. I am convinced with his ideology.

 

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