BY C. S. CHELLAPPA
The Tamil writer C. S. Chellappa (1912-1998) was a great fan of jallikattu. His novel Vaadi Vaasal is the story of a youth who tames a bull at the Pongal festival. In 1954, he went to the bull taming in Madurai armed with an Agfa 11 that he had bought for Rs. 150 to capture the scene. The result was one of the earliest photo essays on an enduring rural pastime of Tamil Nadu.
After returning to Chennai he set up a dark room and learnt how to develop photos. I met him in 1998 and spoke to him about the photos.
Chellappa possessed the skills of a professional photographer. He was able to keep pace with the speed of the bull and despite the primitive camera he got action pictures that should be part of any archive on the sport.
—Snegithan, a photojournalist in Chennai, has preserved the negatives of Chellappa’s jallikattu series.