Books

This coffee table book captures sights of Chennai under lockdown

Chennai Central Railway Station   | Photo Credit: L Ramachandran

Helping a friend out has some perks and Chennai-based photographer L Ramachandran will vouch for that. The lensman, popular for being the first Playboy photographer from India, used the last few months of lockdown to help a friend, Jayakumar, learn photography. In the process, he created a 440-page collectors’ special coffee table book, Chennai to Madras, which will be launched on August 21, capturing the sights of a city that largely stayed indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kasimedu harbour

Kasimedu harbour   | Photo Credit: L Ramachandran

“He wanted to learn photography, and I took him to the Chennai Central station one evening. When I saw the building and sunset through the camera, it looked beautiful. I have travelled across the world for my fashion shoots, but this frame, in my city, was so pretty,” he recalls.

And, thus kickstarted a project — one that saw him get Government permissions to travel in the city, and capture familiar and unfamiliar sights. The photos are black and white, and Ramachandran believes that a glance through the pages, even after a 100 years, will narrate the tale of how the city looked, during these troubled times.

College of Engineering, Guindy

College of Engineering, Guindy   | Photo Credit: L Ramachandran

“These pictures might be impossible to take now with people starting to crowd the streets. During the peak lockdown months, however, all these places were silent, sans people. I just had to document this,” he explains.

During this time, Ramachandran travelled the length and breadth of the city, taking multiple shots of landmarks. “I would have spent ₹70,000 on diesel alone,” he smiles, taking us through the pictures of the book that contain shots of landmarks such as the Government Museum, Ripon Building and Amir Mahal besides covering lesser-known places such as the Dhobikhana and Milk Bottle Tower in Madhavaram.

L Ramachandran

L Ramachandran   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Though the lensman has covered many magnificient buildings in this journey, his favourites include shots of a few old houses. “Usually, there’s so much noise in the frame but when I was clicking them during lockdown, there was no disturbance; no vehicles parked haphazardly. Chennai looked the prettiest in these months.”

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 5:11:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/book-captures-chennai-under-lockdown/article32393952.ece

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