Category Archives: Colorization

Colorizing History: Chapter 1

1. Gandhi before Mahatma

photo of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in South Africa,

In 1891 Gandhi passed the law examination successfully, but was assailed by doubts and anxieties, he applied and was turned down for a part time job as a teacher in a Bombay high school with the modest salary of seventy rupees (£5 1/2) a month. It was with some relief that he discovered that he had a flair for drafting memorials and petitions. He wound up his little establishment in Bombay and returned to Rajkot where petition- writing brought him an income of three hundred rupees a month. He might have settled down as a barrister scribe if he had not incurred the displeasure of the British Political Agent in Rajkot in whose court most of his work lay. So, when an offer of a job came to him from South Africa, he gladly accepted it. The contract was for a year in connection with a civil suit; the remuneration was £105, a first-class return fare and actual expenses. The fee was modest and it was not quite clear whether he was engaged as counsel or as a clerk, but he was in no position to pick and choose. He could hardly have imagined the new vistas of maturity and public service which the South African adventure was to open to him.


2. Rabindra Nath Tagore (Youthful Bravado)

photo of Tagore during his first stay in England, 1879

His father wanted him to become a barrister and he was sent to England. After spending Christmas of 1878 with his family, Tagore was escorted by a friend of his elder brother to London; there, Tagore’s relatives hoped that he would focus more on his studies. He enrolled at University College London. However, he never completed his degree, leaving England after staying just over a year. This exposure to English culture and language would later percolate into his earlier acquaintance with Bengali musical tradition, allowing him to create new modes of music, poetry, and drama. However, Tagore neither fully embraced English strictures nor his family’s traditionally strict Hindu religious observances either in his life or his art, choosing instead to pick the best from both realms of experienceHowever, his father forced him to return to India in 1880.


3. Sonia Gandhi in her younger years

Sonia gandhi in an undated photo

4. Indira Gandhi – The Prime Minister in making

Indira Gandhi in 1956

Daughter of Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, during visit w. her father to US and Canada was clicked by photographer Carl Mydans

5. Madhubala; the biggest star in the world- and she wasn’t in Beverly Hills

A day with Madhubala, 1951

these images were taken by James Burke

6. Two Film Making Colossi

Satyajit Ray and Akira Kurosawa

two great film directors at the 1982 Venice film festival, Italy

7. The Prince and The Prime Minister

Britain’s Prince Charles Chats with India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi During a Banquet – 1980.

8. Flying High at 20

June Argent ,1940

JUNE ARGENT, 20, served in Women’s Auxiliary Corps (India) during the war. The hostess uniform she wears was designed by American TWA hostess. She was youngest of the crew . Air India was known as Tata Airlines till 1940

9. Ford Repair Shop Back Alley 1920

10. Begum Para

Begum Para, photgraph by James Burke 1951

Sister in law of Dilip Kumar, her last role was in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s saawariyan.




Colorizing History: Chapter 2

The reactions to the last post left me heady :’), so thanks a lot, especially the folks from r/india.

Here is the second chapter.


1. Soldiers from Presidency Army [1850s]

After the 1857 mutiny, these armies were brought under the crown.

During the earliest days of the British Indian history in the 1600s, the military element of the company  only comprised of the officers and crews that were dispatched from England. However as they started settling along the coastline, they hired locales to guard their settlements. But for want of authority in the far flung areas, their armies were upgraded and armed more elaborately.


2. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi [1908]

Mahatma Gandhi with a Friend in South Africa as part of a delegation of British Indians

Hired by Dada Abdulla and Sons in South Africa as they needed a lawyer who could speak Gujarati to settle a dispute with a cousin over non payment, this young lawyer, upon his return, would go on to play a pivotal role in India ultimate struggle for independence.


3. Bhagat Singh [1927]

twenty when photographed here.

The earliest method of spreading information was by publishing pamphlets that were ideological, polemical and/or rhetorical. Since these would have only a limited audience, a better way of garnering popular support was by courting arrest and then carrying on propaganda daring the trial. Once inside there was also the possibility of fomenting an agitation amongst the native policemen. When Bhagat Singh was first arrested in the Dussehra bomb case, a photograph of him was taken. This photograph immortalised the image of Bhagat Singh in jail sitting on a cot, his feet crossed, handcuffed, head tilted, a smile on his face.

4. Rabindra Nath Tagore and Helen Keller [1930]

Caption below photograph read, “A sage from the Orient meets a famous woman of the Occident. 🙂

At  the meeting of the New History Society in New York in 1930, at which  Tagore gave his farewell message to American people, Miss  Keller spoke in the interests of India. Later Helen Keller wrote of this encounter in a letter to Parmenia Migel, [sic] sitting beside Rabindra Nath Tagore and sharing his thoughts is like spending one’s days beside the sacred river, drinking deep of honeyed wisdom…

She also spoke of this encounter in her book Midstream My later life


5. Subhash Chandra Bose meeting Adolf Hitler [1942]

In May,1942 Bose under the disguise of an Italian diplomat (Orlando Mazzotta) made his way to Germany and met Adolf Hitler

His plan was to establish a government-in-exile and launch a new military offensive against British forces along with the Germans and Japanese.  Meanwhile in the wake of British rejections of Nazi peace offers,Indian nationalism was perceived suddenly as a useful means of applying pressure on the British Empire.

source: Subhas Chandra Bose in Nazi Germany by Romain Hayes

6. Indians in the Second World War [1945]

Chief Officer Margaret L Cooper, Deputy Director of the Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service (WRINS), with Second Officer Kalyani Sen, WRINS at Rosyth during their two month study visit to Britain, 3rd June 1945.

The Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service was established as part of the The Royal Indian Navy (RIN) during World War II. Although the women did not serve on board the ships, this did give them a role in the navy. The first Indian service woman who visited the UK was second officer Kalyani Sen. Sen went there to make a comparative study of training and administration in the Women’s Royal Naval Service.

“In India there is still a big prejudice against girls and women working with men…but the women are so keen to get into the Services that they are breaking it down,” she said.

7. Dr. B.R Ambedkar [1946]

He was independent India’s first law minister, and principal architect of Constitution of India.

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb, was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement and campaigned against social discrimination against Untouchables (Dalits), while also supporting the rights of women and labour.

This photo was taken by Margaret Bourke-White at his home is Delhi.

8. Jayaprakash Narayan [1946]

three decades later he’d lead the opposition against the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

Jayaprakash Narayan was a freedom fighter and political leader of India.

Narayan returned from the US to India in late 1929 as a Marxist. He joined the Indian National Congress on the invitation of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1929; Mahatma Gandhi became his mentor in the Congress. He shared a house at Kadam Kuan in Patna with his close friend and nationalist Ganga Sharan Sinha. with whom he shared the most cordial and lasting friendship. During the Indian independence movement he was arrested, jailed, and tortured several times by the British. He won particular fame during the Quit India movement

photo by Margaret Bourke-White

9. Muhammad Ali Jinnah [1947]

revered in Pakistan as  Quaid-i-Azam (Great Leader) and Baba-i-Qaum (father of the nation),


After provincial elections in 1937, the congress refused to form coalition administrations with the Muslim League in mixed areas. Relations between Hindus and Muslims began to deteriorate. In 1940, at a Muslim League session in Lahore, the first official demand was made for the partition of India and the creation of a Muslim state of Pakistan. Jinnah had always believed that Hindu-Muslim unity was possible, but reluctantly came to the view that partition was necessary to safeguard the rights of Indian Muslims.

His insistence on this issue through negotiations with the British government resulted in the partition of India and the formation of the state of Pakistan on 14 August 1947.

photo  by Margaret Bourke-White

10. Independence of India [1947]

Lord Mountbatten addressing the Indian Parliament.

Jawaharlal Nehru being sworn in as First Prime Minister of Independent India , 15 August 1947

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity. – from Nehru’s famous speech Tryst with Destiny

AIR archive of the event

11. Partition of India [1947]

With the tragic legacy of an uncertain future, a young refugee sits on the walls of Purana Qila, transformed into a vast refugee camp in Delhi.

This stain-covered daybreak, this night-bitten dawn,
This is not that dawn of which there was expectation;
This is not that dawn with longing for which
The friends set out, (convinced) that somewhere there we met with,

In the desert of the sky, the final destination of the stars!
Somewhere there would be the shore of the sluggish wave of night,
Somewhere would go and halt the boat of the grief of pain.
~Faiz Ahmed Faiz