T.S. Nagarajan, a legend and a gentleman: RIP


tsn_now1churumuri records with deep regret the passing away of the legendary Mysore photographer, T.S. Nagarajan, in Madras this morning. He was 82 years old.

Younger brother of the equally accomplished T.S. Satyan, Mr Nagarajan had been ailing for some time and had shifted from Bangalore to be with his family.

The end came at 10.40 am, according to his daughter Kalyani Pramod.

Mr Nagarajan, a former photographic officer in the photo division of the government of India—who became a photographer thanks to the maharaja’s elephant—spent a lifetime shooting pictures of homes and houses, especially their interiors. He wrote about his “most unforgettable picture” in 2006 without the photograph, letting readers imagine—and then provided the picture (above).

Like Mr Satyan, Mr Nagarajan was brilliant with painting word-pictures and wrote several pieces for churumuri, which he then compiled into a book for private circulation. A 4,624-love story of his wife and life companion for 50 years, Meenakshi—“I thought she would live forever“—was received to global acclaim.

Mr Nagarajan’s most selfless act as a photographer was to make available, through churumuri, in 2008 a picture he shot in 1955 for All India Radio of the Kannada literary legends at one table, for all Kannadigas to use and re-use—free of cost, with these words:

“I had just graduated from the First Grade College and was entertaining ambitions of becoming a photojournalist. I had a broken (and repaired) Argoflex camera, a present from my celebrated elder-brother T.S. Satyan, with which I took this picture.

“Akashvani paid me a handsome sum of Rs 6 for using it in their programme journal.

“I stumbled upon this print while looking for another rare picture of my grandmother from a stack of old prints. I feel this picture does not belong to me now. It belongs to all Kannadigas. Therefore, I request churumuri to offer it on my behalf to all lovers of Kannada by placing it in the public domain.”

A book of his pictures Vanishing Homes of India was released by Mani Ratnam and N. Ram last month.


By T.S. Nagarajan: I thought she would live forever

The R.K. Narayan only I knew

The Sharada Prasad only I knew

External reading: The T.S. Nagarajan interview

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13 Responses to “T.S. Nagarajan, a legend and a gentleman: RIP”

  1. David B Says:

    We will miss him and his picture badly…. May His Soul Rest in Peace!!!

  2. ERR Says:

    your piece in churumuri was a delight to read. RIP Mr. Nagarajan..


  3. Gouri Satya Says:

    An excellent photo-journalist. He was regularly visiting Mysore accompanying other Bangalore journalists whenever VIPs visited Mysore during 60s and 70s for Deccan Herald photo coverage. R
    RIP Nagarajan.

  4. M.P.V. Shenoi Says:

    Thanks for a fitting tribute
    As a classmate of Naga in Maharajas High school (1947-49) i had a high regard for him for his mastery over english and focus on photography. It is rare that High school classmates keep in touch in future life.. But as it happened we both joined central government and during my periodical postings to Delhi we kept in touch. As a civil engineer i was very much interested in his photographs of buidings and his views about buildings and people and mutual influence on one another. When we returned to Bangalore after retirement we kept in touch. They were a great unassuming couple.
    Passing away of Meenaxi and naga is a loss to many of us- saraswatipuram and Harding circle gang-
    Rest in peace or click away in/of heavens- Naga

  5. Bisalehalli Says:

    Deeply saddened to learn this news…
    Rest in peace, Nagarajan Sir.
    Thank you for everything.

  6. Suresh Panje Says:

    Sad to hear that T S Nagarajan is no more. Incidentally, churumuri.com was only medium that had kept up his artistry with the camera after he literally quit the mainstream media. I trust his last moments were painless.. I bow my head in reverence to this genius… Yes, I had met his brother Sathyam in New Delhi and he had recounted numerous interesting instances in his life time as a cameraman.

  7. Vimal Says:

    Will miss you. R.I.P…

  8. Umesh S.K. (@umesh_sk) Says:

    May his soul rest in peace.

  9. Nishant Ratnakar Says:

    He was a humble person. I had the opportunity to visit him and his late wife at their residence some 9 years ago. I was a complete novice in photography then and had chucked a career in IT to start my life fresh with a learning curve in photography. He showed no airs and heard everything that i had to say or question. He had hooked on to internet then. He cited his example of learning internet as a senior citizen to convey that it is never too late to learn anything new in life. And that it is not late to abandon a career after graduation to start learning photography. He patiently opened up his archives and introduced me to some his works. I had the privilege to hear from him his views about photography, his personal journey as a photographer, and the how the photography world had changed. As a parting gift post our conversations, he gave me an autographed copy of a catalog of his body of work “Homes with a soul” published in Camera Obscura (a 16 page section of the Thessaloniki[Greece] based quarterly Entefktirio). It stays on as a prized possession among the books related to photography at my home. RIP T.S Nagarajan, the first photographer I met in my life.

  10. Radhika Says:

    May his soul rest in peace. I was curious to read the private book he had written ‘A Pearl of Water on a Lotus Leaf and Other Memories‘ about which Churumuri had mentioned about in one of its posts. I had sent him an email requesting for the same. He was so very kind to send a copy of the book to me. It was like reading Malgudi Days.
    Pity that our main stream media doesn’t care to carry news about such people. Even R K Shrikanthan did not get good coverage. How will the new generation ever know about such great souls? Are only suicides, murders, illicit relationships the only news items worthy to be watched and not the life and works of great people like TSN, RKS?

  11. Arun Padaki Says:

    A big loss…RIP

  12. Nagendra Satyan Says:

    I have very fond memories of my uncle , whom I affectionately addressed as ” Jani”. Really do not recollect how I gave him that name, but it stuck. May his soul rest in peace. His photographs will live forever.

  13. km Says:


    I just had to re-read his tribute to his wife. It is such an intensely moving piece of prose.

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