(Top Image) My parents, Rajaram and Annapurna Telang. 1956 (Bottom image - Hand painted Photograph) My siblings, Ramesh and Snehlata. 1955. Islampur, Sangli District, Maharashtra. IMP Research Intern : Priyanka Balwant Kale, Pune Image and Narrative Points contributed by Sumedha Deshmukh, Pune The above photograph is of my parents, Rajaram and Annapurna Telang, taken in Urun-Islampur (Islampur for short, in Sangli District) Maharashtra, in 1956. The image below shows my older siblings, Ramesh and Snehlata, photographed in 1955 when they were two and five years old. My father Rajaram or Appaji, as we would call him, had learnt photography and would paint on his prints often. Appaji served as a bank employee throughout his life, and was a perfectionist when it came to his creative interests. My parents’ families were originally from a village in Hyderabad State (now in Telangana state) called Manthani, Peddapalli district, on the banks of river Godavari. It had a unique composition with the majority of the population of Brahmin caste and a minority trader community called Komati living together in complete harmony. Our last name at the time was Yellishetty, still used among our relatives. With fewer options of employment in his village as well as deeply felt discrimination by a rather tyrannical attitude of the Nizam Shah, my grandfather along with his family migrated to Karad (originally known as "Karhatak or"Elephant Market”), Bombay Presidency (now Maharashtra state) via the Hyderabad-Nanded (Marathwad) route in 1915. Marathwad, was part of the then Hyderabad State and a nodal point between Marathi and Telugu culture. Fearing exclusion from the nearby village communities for being dark-skinned South Indians, even if from a village of Brahmins. My grandfather adopted the last…
In September of 1945, two months before they left for Nyasaland (now Malawi), East Africa, my parents Mangal and Madhav Thorat got this photograph taken in a photo studio in Poona (now Pune) by a photographer named Patwardhan. As the photograph may reflect, my parents liked to dress up well. What it also holds is a story of their unusual pasts, and future together.
In the 1950s, the Assam Government cracked down on Communists, and my father became a 'Most Wanted Man' with a bounty of Rs. 10,000 Rupees on his head, dead or alive. My father kept moving from state to country lines under the radar across the region, Myanmar, Bhutan, Tibet and present day Bangladesh, hiding himself among the people, while also earning their trust and faith.
In Karachi, the Marathe family lived in the prominent locality of Bandar road (now Muhammad Ali Jinnah Road). The Maharashtrian community with approximately 50,000 people enjoyed tremendous social currency and power and they demonstrated the vibrant culture of the community in Karachi, where people from all religions and ethnicities celebrated their diversities, and lived in harmony. Appasaheb’s daughter, my grand-aunt Vimal, was born in Karachi and she still remembers that they owned a convertible car and that Karachi is where she experienced the finest days of her life. Both of Appasaheb's children, Vimal and my grandfather Suresh attended a Marathi medium school in Karachi called Narayan Jagannath High School.
This photograph of my grandfather was taken around 1925 at a photo studio called Portraits Par Papers located at 23, Rue Boissy-d’ Anglas in Paris, France. I am not exactly sure what he was doing in Paris at the time, but it is possible that he went there on a vacation with some of his friends because we know that he also travelled to Austria and Hungary. We also know that he had by then discovered the delights of a camera and photography.