About a year ago, thanks to my good friend Harish Sriram, I came across the works of a photographer called N K Dasappa. He was with the Information department of the government of Karnataka and had documented the life and times of the land from the ’60s through the ’80s. Mr Dasappa’s son, Mr Lingaraju, a journalist, had preserved hundreds of his negatives and asked if they could be scanned and restored. The images were impeccable, and most of the negatives were in good shape, thanks to the dry weather of Bangalore. With the help of several of my students at Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design & Technology, I have been scanning and restoring the images. As a mark of my respect for this great photographer, I am doing this entirely pro bono.
Mr Dasappa was born into a poor family of weavers in 1940 in a small village called Nonavinakere, not too far from Bangalore. His parents sold their meagre possessions, two hand looms and a small piece of land and migrated to the city. Mr Dasappa studied cinematography, obtained a diploma, and joined as a Photochemist in the Department of Information of the state government. Over time, he became the department’s deputy director and also served as a public relations officer at Bangalore Development Authority, Office of the Police Commissioner and the Director General. He worked closely with D. Devaraj Urs, one of the greatest chief ministers of the state.
His archives have rare images of the political history of India from the 60s and 70s and Karnataka’s cultural history and life. Photographers used films (analogue) till the first decade of the 21st century, and their work is the visual history of modern India – of the culture, politics, daily life..etc. Hence, archiving work from this era is very important. However, there isn’t much emphasis or encouragement for archiving Indian photography, let alone funding.
I hope his images can be shown at a suitable venue and that we will be able to produce a book.