Alive and Clicking, A Memoir by TS Satyan – A Review

Alive and Clicking - Chitra Aiyer Photography

One of my recent reads that I completely enjoyed reading – T. S. Satyan’s ‘Alive and Clicking’, a memoir. While he has been a wonderful photographer, he shows us the incredible writer that he is with this memoir. All of the book is written like as if he is recollecting things that happened just a few days ago – when actually it is from many, many years ago. All of his life, spread across many decades, recollected and written in a style reminiscent of a long-lost era. Rich with details and with his splendid yet simplistic narration, the book had me glued to his every word. I also read this book very slowly, taking it all in, and hanging on to his writing for as long as possible. Never is it superfluous or boring.

His personality shines through with his ability to see life like the way he did, filling the reader with simple joyfulness. I had to remind myself that he was no more when I was reading his book, since his spirit is so alive through out. While the book in its entirety is written in past tense, you still get the sense of being a witness to all the events and settings.

He has captured some of the rustic, simplistic scenes of rural India for magazines abroad and in this book, he goes on to describe how he went about shooting some of them – really, his commitment is absolutely commendable. Photography is so not about just what is in front of the camera, it has so much to do with the personality of the clicker – and from his narrative, it becomes evident that he was warm and down-to-earth.

He has been a witness to many a important events – and he shares them all generously with the readers. He said, “when you spend eighty summers on one planet with a camera in hand, things happen, events occur, and you have a bunch of experiences and encounters because you were there at the right time at the right place.” He recounts the times he spent with illustrious folks like Nobel Laureate C.V. Raman and film-maker Satyajit Ray; the significant moments he captured in the lives of leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Pope Paul VI. He also recollects his experiences as a photographer in places as varied as Sikkim, Afghanistan, Arunachal Pradesh and Malaysia.

What also stands out is the no. of very eminent folks Mysore and its Maharaja college produced in that era – a lot of very famous personalities like R.K. Narayan, R.K. Laxman, Doreswamy Iyengar, were all his contemporaries or his seniors there. Mysore is a constant through out this book and with his beautiful writing, he describes the town the way it was in the 30s and 40s, almost making those of us who didnt even know the Mysore then, to miss it.

T.S. Satyan was an award-winning photojournalist and winner of the Padma Shri in 1977. He passed away in Dec 2009.

Pic Source: thehindu.com

RIP, Satyan.


8 Responses to “Alive and Clicking, A Memoir by TS Satyan – A Review”

  1. Churumuri used to publish some of his works and writings..simple and lucid…and yet thoroughly enjoyable…

  2. thanks chitra. Picking this up … on my next visit.

  3. Vijay – will go and read them – thanks.

    Mayur – you are welcome. Would like to know how like the book.

  4. Thanks for the review, Chitra. Shall pick it up. Me too have read a post on churumuri (an excerpt) and was very touched.

  5. You are welcome, Arun – will dig through Churumuri.

  6. I have read about him in Churumuri too. Will pick up this book.:)

  7. Ms. Chitra,
    Hello. I am extremely impressed with the harmony and clarity of your photography.
    You have mentioned that you do photoshoots. Could you kindly fwd the rates. The subject is my newborn niece. Would like to have a nice album done of her. She is 1 month old now and it would be great to capture this time in eternity. Thank you very much.

  8. Hai Chitra,

    Thanks a lot for recommending Alive and Clicking. I got one and find it very very interesting.

    Regards,
    Ullas

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