City Landmark – Venus Digital Colour Lab & Studio, Jacobpura, Gurgaon
The museum of visuals.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This is a treasure house and nobody realises it. Perhaps not even the good owner himself.
“There was a time when we would daily sell 20 cameras, 100 film rolls, and 100 film rolls accessories,” laments Prem Narang, owner of Venus Digital Colour Lab & Studio in Gurgaon’s Jacobpura in the Greater Delhi Region.
And then the camera phone arrived, bringing with it the instantly gratifying custom of sharing photos on social media. The need to go to a photo studio became unnecessary.
Everyone knows this story. You, however, don’t have to visit this city landmark to cultivate nostalgia for the old models of Yashica, Minolta and Pentax—the black and white cameras the studio stocked in its golden days.
Founded in 1982, the colour lab gives the experience of a museum. The various photographs decked on the walls are of people who passed through its doors to pose for the camera. Each face is like an epic, making one wonder about the present life of these individuals. Just outside the glass door stands the giant portrait of a young woman taken years ago “for matrimonial purposes”. It’s a fitting picture for the cover of Vikram Seth’s long awaited novel A Suitable Girl.
“In the old days, people would come to us with their entire family for formal portraits to preserve memories,” recalls manager Ramakant. They still come, he adds, but fewer.
This afternoon, the manager walks down a flight of stairs to show the basement studio. It is dark due to an unexpected power cut.
The studio’s umbrella lights are discernible only because their shape is a shade darker. A little table is placed between these lighting equipment. The manager sits on it for a moment, looking like a spirit from the past. Later, he silently adjusts a stack of framed photographs, covered in dust. One particularly striking picture is of an elderly man in turban.
“The negatives of many of the photographs that have been processed here all these years are lying safely with us,” says the owner.
This means that if a social historian wishes to study the Gurugram of 1980s and 1990s, he/she may as well approach the studio.
The showroom opens daily from 9am to 9pm. On Sunday, it closes at 2pm.
The days of studio photography