She Walks In Beauty

Anita Desai

Even though she has more than a dozen books to her name, Anita Desai is best known for The Village by the Sea. Her ability to evoke characters and moods through visual images ranging from the meteorologic to the botanical has earned her the Padma Bhushan. This image was clicked in the 1980s.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day (March 8), we take a look at archival photographs of seven well-known Indian women, captured by veteran photographer NK Sareen.

Amrita Pritam

A noted poetess, novelist and essayist, Amrita Pritam (1919-2005) is, without doubt, one of the most prolific Indian writers of the 20th century. Although she wrote predominantly in Punjabi, her works have been translated to several Indian and foreign languages. She was the recipient of such illustrious honours like the Padma Vibhushan. This photograph was captured in her house in New Delhi’s Hauz Khas neighbourhood.

Kamala Das

Often hailed as the mother of modern English poetry in India, Kamala Das (1934 – 2009) wrote in both English and her mother tongue Malayalam. Owing to her honest and fierce explorations of the female psyche, she was often considered way ahead of her time and was compared to iconic litterateurs like Marguerite Duras and Sylvia Plath for her direct and impertinent style of writing. The photographer clicked this image at her home in Mumbai.

PT Usha

No conversation about Indian athletics is complete without the mention of Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha, popularly known as PT Usha. A former track and field racer, Usha reached the peak of her career in 1985, earning five gold medals and a bronze at the Asian meet held in Jakarta. For her exemplary achievements, she has been awarded the Padma Shri and Arjuna Award. This image was clicked while she was practising in New Delhi for the Asiad Games in 1982

Shovana Narayan

A Padma Shri awardee, Shovana Narayan is a kathak exponent and a disciple of kathak legend Pandit Birju Maharaj. She is recognised for her efforts to fuse kathak with such international dance forms as western classical ballet, tap and flamenco. She is also a former Indian Audit and Accounts Service officer. This photograph was clicked around the mid-1980s

Lata Mangeshkar

Referred to as the ‘nightingale of India’, Lata Mangeshkar needs no introduction. Not only has she worked with some of the stalwarts of the Hindi film industry but has also lent her voice to several regional language songs. In 1974, she became the first Indian to perform at the Royal Albert Hall, London. From the Bharat Ratna, and the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan, and Dadasaheb Phalke Award, she has earned them all

Uma Sharma

A kathak danseuse, Uma Sharma is a respected proponent of the classical dance form. She has been awarded the Padma Bhushan for her unique contribution to India’s cultural tradition. She helms the Bharatiya Sangeet Sadan, a classical dance and music academy in New Delhi, founded in 1946. This photograph was clicked during one of her early performances in New Delhi and is autographed by her

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