Mallaahs, the boatmen of Gangetic geography, A Photo Art series by Shibu Arakkal

Review of Mallahs, the boat of Gangetic geography, photographic series of Shibu Arakkal. For several hundred years these boatmen on the Ganga and the Yamuna have handed down their oars from father to son. I was intensely drawn to the purpose of their lives, to carry people back and forth on these rivers. Almost married to their boats, these men. To live almost all of their lives on these wooden vessels, going about their worldly chores and belonging to a tribe of menfolk, they pride themselves on being the real caretakers of these mystical rivers. Almost as if they are born on these boats and just as possibly may breath their last on it, the Mallaah men live lives removed from their families and children.


Christian Tamil Couples

Unlike the rest of South India, where Christians have a history of about 2,000 years, this temple town has seen only three generations of Christians that constitutes roughly about 2.7% of the total population. A majority of them are first or second-generation Tamil Christians and they are yet to completely convert from their traditional practices and lifestyle.


Astad Deboo, a photo tribute to the dance maestro

The artist community from around the world is deeply shocked by dance maestro Astad Deboo's sudden demise. Tributes have been pouring in. He has been a source of inspiration for many. Astad was also a good friend and mentor, always reachable and welcoming. A photographer mentioned that the last message he had received from Astad a week ago was a note of thank you. "Thank you for Photographing me all these years", Astad had said in that personal message. In fact, it is our privilege that we get to see these remarkable photographic visuals. Each one of us is indebted to these known and unknown photographers for these living pictures. As we mourn the loss of India's cultural treasure, PhotoMail brings together select photographs of Astad Deboo. Astad Deboo will live forever, in loving memory.


Dilli Chalo: Ready for the long haul

As part of the ‘Dilli Chalo’ protest called on November 26 and 27, lakhs of farmers, laborers, and small traders decided to march from Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and other states towards Delhi. During their attempt to reach Delhi, the farmers faced warlike resistance from the Indian government at two inter-state borders. Protesters occupied several miles of highway with their tractors and trolleys.

Image of the Day

Specially curated, 365 Days, 365 Images of National/International photographers !! An Image a Day, let us engage with this fascinating medium that breaks all boundaries… See all the images here.

Popular Articles


Remembering Punalur Rajan

Punalur Rajan was an enigma – a mystery that requires further unfolding. He was an important person in the history of contemporary Kerala. In the time to come, we will be forced to look back to his photographs – for his contribution is something that knows no bounds. He will live through the slices of history he has left behind. No words could ever fully represent the politics and ideology to which he dedicated his life. I leave my pranaams to this remarkable person with the question – what are we going to do now?


The Long Walk to Home: A Critical Reading

During the corona pandemic lockdown, India saw its migrant workers walk in an ardent will to reach the safety of their homes… History repeats itself, they say. Well, not exactly the same situation, but during Indian’s partition, thousands of Muslims and Hindus had to cross over – in search of a new home in unknown terrain. Seen through the photographic eyes of Margaret Bourke-White and Sunil Janah – the horrifying events of Indian Partition 1947 comes alive – once again in the Corona days – much more violent, cruel, and gruesome. It is a stark reminder that even after 70 and odd years of independence, India still has not healed itself of poverty, inequality, and oppression.

Photo Story


Kalpathy Car Festival

The Kalpathy festival is held over a period of 10 days, such that the last day of the festival falls on the 1st day of Vrischikam (Karthika) month. Vrishchikam is a period of rituals and festivals in many places, notably Sabarimala and Tiruvannamalai. Today, the Kalpathy festival is attended by many communities apart from the Tamil Brahmins, although the festival is conducted by the residents of new and old Kalpathy, and Chathapuram. Much like the rest of Palakkad, the Kalpathy festival has allowed for a mixture of what could be called the Chera culture and the Pandyan culture.


നൃത്തം ചെയ്യുന്ന ദൈവങ്ങൾ

വേട്ടയാടിയ വിഭവങ്ങള്‍ തീയില്‍ ചുട്ടുകഴിക്കുന്ന, പ്രകൃതി ശക്തികളെ ആരാധിച്ചു തീയ്ക്കു ചുറ്റും നൃത്തം വെയ്ക്കുന്ന ഗോത്ര സംസ്കൃതിയോട് കൂറുപുലര്‍ത്തുന്നുണ്ടെങ്കിലും , സംഘ കാല ചരിത്രത്തിലെ കലകളുടെ പരിഷ്കൃത രൂപമായിരിക്കാം തെയ്യമുള്‍പ്പടെ കേരളത്തിലങ്ങോളമിങ്ങോളമുള്ള പല ക്ഷേത്ര ക്ഷേത്രേതര അനുഷ്ടാന കലകളുമെന്ന് കരുതാവുന്നതാണ്. വള്ളുവനാട്ടിലെ പൂതനും തിറയും, മധ്യ തിരുവിതാംകൂറിലെ പടയണി, തെക്കന്‍ കേരളത്തിലെ മുടിയേറ്റ്, മംഗലാപുരം ഭാഗത്തുള്ള ഭൂത കൊല, ഇവയൊക്കെ തെയ്യവുമായി അഭേദ്യമായ ബന്ധം പുലര്‍ത്തുന്ന കലാരൂപങ്ങളാണ്.

ജലബിന്ദുക്കളുടെ മോക്ഷയാത്ര

ഹിമാലയന്‍ മഞ്ഞുപാടങ്ങളില്‍ നിന്നൊഴുകി, ചരിത്രമുറങ്ങുന്ന ജനപഥങ്ങളെ തഴുകി, ബംഗാള്‍ ഉള്‍ക്കടലിന്‍റെ ആഴങ്ങളില്‍ അലിയുന്നത് വരെയുള്ള ഗംഗയുടെ യാത്രയെ, നാല് മാസത്തോളം സൈക്കിളിലും, കാൽനടയായും ജോയൽ കെ. പയസ് അനുഗമിച്ചതിന്റെ എഴുത്തും ചിത്രങ്ങളും.


യോഗാനഗരിയിലെ ബീറ്റിൽസ് താളങ്ങൾ

സംസ്കാരത്തിന്റെ സംരക്ഷകർ എന്നു സ്വയം വിശേഷിപ്പിക്കുന്ന ചിലർക്ക് വേറെ ചില ‘പ്രശ്നങ്ങളാണ്’ ഉയർത്തിക്കാട്ടാനുള്ളത് വിദേശ വിനോദ സഞ്ചാരികൾ അസന്മാർഗിക പ്രവർത്തികളിൽ ഏർപ്പെടുന്നു എന്നും, ഋഷികേശിന്റെ ‘പവിത്രത’ നഷ്ടപ്പെടുത്തുന്നു എന്നും ആരോപിച്ച് വിശ്വഹിന്ദു പരിഷദ് രംഗത്തുവന്നത് ഒരു ഉദാഹരണമാണ്.


ദേവപ്രയാഗിലെ സന്ധ്യകൾ

ആളുകളെ കുത്തിനിറച്ച ഒരു ജീപ്പിലാണ് ടെഹ്‌റി അണക്കെട്ടിന് അപ്പുറത്തുള്ള ധൻസാലിയിൽ നിന്ന് ദേവപ്രയാഗിലേക്കുള്ള ഞങ്ങളുടെ യാത്ര തുടങ്ങിയത്.

Flâneur’s Notes

Some times a connoisseur, at times a curious observer, very little escapes the astute vision of cultural critic, writer, Johny ML. Photomail presents a unique column ‘Flaneur’s Notes’ the sentient witness of our times, where he weaves vivid tapestries of his experiences on journeys through the myriad bylanes of literature, culture, art, politics, and life.


Contemporary Photography as Sighting Vying for Citing

Sighting is always accidental and definitely at times eagerly waited for. Examples could be taken from two different types of star gazing; one from astronomy and the other from the film world. Crazy fans of both astronomy and film stars do wait for the sighting of their focus of interest and the knowledge about their appearance is limited and vague. In the former’s case precision spotting is possible now with technological advancements but in the latter case the information of a star’s arrival is pretty vague and it is not even necessary that he/she appears in the expected point of entry. In both the cases there is a long and patient waiting. But among the innumerable images captured by the crazy fans or amateur photographers none qualifies as a ‘citable’ image. The citable images are those clicked and distributed selectively or ‘officially’ by the authorities.


Flâneur’s Notes II, Image is an Artefact

The lone boot is rather a disturbing image; much pain inducing than the aggressive and cautious posture of the freedom fighters backed up by the Indian Army (definitely Kishore Parekh is on the winning side as he was taken to the combat zone by an Indian army General in his vehicle). A closer look reveals that the boot does not belong to the fighters. They wear rubber slippers and are not in combat fatigue. The image tells something more; the Indian army gives the backup and ammunition to the native freedom fighters but does not fight from the front.

Poetry and Photography

PhotoMail presents a panoramic view of the art of photography’s interaction and interrelation with other art mediums such as literature, architecture, and other visual media. This poetry and photography column is published in English, Tamil (ஒளியெழுத்து), and Malayalam (വാക്കും നോക്കും).


വാക്കും നോക്കും

Metabolism of Culture


Manigramam, Prehistoric Merchant Guild of Tamil Legacy

The existence of Manigramam (Manikkiramam) in Pukar, in this context, is an important surviving evidence of our shared lineage. As literary sources attest, Pukar was one of the gateways through which the Afro-Arabian traders entered Southern India. This simple board points to three thousand and odd years of cultural exchange that happened across borders.


Sacred Thread, Hierarchal hegemony and identity

Controversy surrounds the origin of Brahmin clans, which is divided into ‘gotras’, and as such mutually opposing thoughts and evidences – both scriptural and historical – are put forth by the differing factions. As far as South India is concerned, the Tamil Brahmins and their Vedic ideas started spreading during the period when Buddhism and Jainism was gaining popularity (around 5th century BCE).

Latest Photo-Art News

Indigo Boards in Tamil Nadu
January 7, 2021 / Latest, News

காலத்தைச் சுமக்கும் பெயர் பலகைகள்

ஒளியினால் உருவாகும் புகைப்படப்பதிவுகள் எக்காலத்திற்கும் நிலைத்திருக்கும் கல்வெட்டுகள் போன்றவை. சமகால நவீனத்தில் புகைப்படங்கள் மூலம் ஆவணப்படுத்துதல் என்பது எளிய வகை. ஒரு ஆவணமாக எந்த ஒரு புகைப்படமும் சிறந்ததே. புகைப்படப் பின்னணியில் உள்ள சிந்தைகள், அழகியல், மற்றும் சின்னச் சின்னக் கூறுகளால் அப்படம் கலையியலாக உருமாறுகிறது. ஆர்வமுடையோரின் ஒத்துழைப்புகளால் INDIGO BOARDS OF MADRAS குழுவின் இந்த ஆவண முயற்சிகள் இன்னும் மெருகேறி முழுதாக நடைபோட வாய்ப்பிருக்கிறது.
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Pandemic Paradox, art world 2020
December 29, 2020 / Latest, Special Report

Pandemic Paradox, Indian Art 2020

The world of art and culture is one of the hardest-hit sectors. The already limited support structure for artists and art/cultural organisations in India has dwindled further, pushing many to oblivion. The coronavirus outbreak and subsequent nationwide lockdown did affect almost all art practitioners, but then, the scale of impact was different for different sectors. Performance artists and photographers received the first line of bullets, with curtains down on live performances and mobility curtailed for photography assignments. Even within this, there were increased vulnerabilities because of one’s age (young, mid-career, and senior), location (rural or urban), networking possibilities, social and family support lines etc.
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