A photograph is not just a memory. It is a moment of a story which has been captured and preserved as history forever.
This is what Anusha Yadav believes. A photographer par excellence, she is also the brainchild behind the Indian Memory Project. And if you haven’t yet come to know about this, you are missing out on some sheer brilliance. Indian Memory Project is an online community where Indians send their personal family pictures and their story behind it. Sounds very normal? Well, after listening to her talk it won’t as you might end up rummaging your old photo albums to pick up one archived picture and dash to the nearest available scanner!
The idea behind collecting these personal photographs is that every picture has an unimaginable story and a secret which forms a piece of the world’s history puzzle. Our decisions guided by our emotions create our destinies. And these destinies make our own small story which is somewhere central to the world’s existence.
But what could you infer if the photograph has been sent without a story! She shows some brilliant pictures from her Indian Memory Project which have a stories unimaginable attached to it. There is a picture of Shalini Gupta & Anupa Nathaniel from 1962. On the first glance it appears like any normal picture of two 15 year olds posing for a photograph in a studio. But, it is not. These two ladies are the members of India’s first girl rock band where Anupa was the lead guitarist. They did shows all over India and even got front row seats for Beatles private concert during their tour in India. Isn’t that amazing! And the picture adds a beautiful touch to this forgotten history.
There is also a picture of a revolutionary freedom fighter couple in her collection of very old pictures. Chameli Devi & Phool Chand Jain were an unconventional couple for a Marwari household even back in the year 1923. They had the courage to hold hands for the picture in a time when husbands didn’t hold hands with their wives or even look at them in public places. The picture has a mesmerizing history attached to it which directly relates to the Indian Freedom Struggle and the Swadeshi Movement.
But perhaps the best that this project by Anusha has achieved by far is the meeting of two descendants of the same ancestor after 3 generations across six continents. Just a bit of google and the pictures onboard the project! The world is a strangely small place if we just connect the dots isn’t it? And she is doing just that; an attempt to reconstruct the visual history where we all realize our small but important and central roles.