Mahatta Multimedia is the new partner of Image Professionals in India. All of our collections from food to living to travel are now represented by the renowned media company from New Dehli. On their website, www.indiapicture.in professional image users have been finding high-quality Indian and international images and videos on every topic for many years.
Roots Date Back 100 Years
The success story of Mahatta Multimedia began 100 years ago. The origins go back to a photography shop founded in 1915 in Srinagar, which quickly developed into the leading photo studio in the Kashmir Valley. Today, the company name is synonymous with photography in the country.
One of the managing directors of Mahatta Multimedia is Hemant Mehta, whose grandfather was one of the three founders of the photo shop. Hemant Mehta recently visited us in our office in Munich. Here, we are introducing him and sharing the fascinating history of his company in an interview.
Mahatta – What does your company name mean?
Hemant Mehta: The name Mahatta is derived from our family name “Mehta”. Our family founded a small photo shop in Srinagar in Kashmir in 1915. At that time photography was very rare and expensive. The clientele consisted mainly of British people who used to visit Kashmir to spend their holidays. However, the British had trouble pronouncing the name “Mehta” – as the shop was originally called – and said Mahatta instead. So the owners decided to rename the shop from Mehta to Mahatta because it was a practical name for the customers.
So did your direct ancestors established the photo shop?
Hemant Mehta: Yes, there were three brothers. The youngest was my grandfather. Because of family disputes, the brothers had to flee from their former homeland Dinanagar in Punjab. To feed himself and his siblings, the eldest brother assisted a British photographer and discovered his passion for photography. He enthusiastically passed on his knowledge to his two younger brothers. They finally founded one of the first Indian photography shops in Srinagar.
They shared the work according to their talents. The oldest brother, a very friendly, charming and popular man, took over the management of the shop and the marketing. The middle man was well versed in finance and took care of the financial transactions and human resources. The youngest, our grandfather, was a very creative and skilled person. He was particularly interested in the technical aspects of photography. He was therefore responsible for the laboratory and the quality of the photos.
What did the photography studio specialize in?
Hemant Mehta: The main source of income was studio portraits. Since photography was very expensive in those days, the clientele of the photo shop was mainly Royals from various north Indian states and British army officers. The photo studio was particularly famous for its wedding photos. People said that if you want to get married, you have to have your pictures taken by Mahatta. Because they would somehow make the traditional headdress of the bride and groom look more impressive.
Apart from the portraits, film, cameras, and camera equipment were sold in the shop. The picturesque photos of Kashmir were also very popular. Mahatta printed and sold postcards with the most beautiful landscapes of Kashmir. Mainly our grandfather was the photographer. In 2006, we showed an exhibition of his photographs entitled “Kashmir Views”, which was well-received throughout the country.
Does the store still exist today?
Hemant Mehta: Indeed, in the same place as it did then. Even today, you can find everything that has to do with photography there. There is still a portrait studio and even a Mahatta Art Café.
And how has it transitioned from then to now? How did the photography shop develop into the media company Mahatta Multimedia?
Hemant Mehta: Due to our history, photography in our family is simply in our blood. It’s the same with me and my brother Dushyant. As trained photographers and filmmakers, we both set up a website for photography at the end of the 90s. In 2002, our website went online. Since 2003 we sold our pictures to magazines from all over the world. Our regular customers were Time Magazine, Business Week, News Week, Far Eastern Economic Review and many more.
In the years that followed, we partnered with a major U.S. media company to get in touch with commercial stock photography. We were able to gain valuable experience. In 2006 Mahatta Multimedia founded the premium website for high-quality Indian and international images IndiaPicture and in 2009 the microstock agency IndiaPicturebudget.
What is Mahatta Multimedia’s main business today?
Hemant Mehta: Our main business is the licensing of stock images. Our sales offices are in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. We also produce our own images. We have currently have more than 40,000. Recently we started another business: Print on Demand, including framing. So far, this looks very promising. We have found that we are the only online provider in the country in this area.
Which team do you manage?
Hemant Mehta: I think our team of around 40 employees is one of the most interesting of all. Ninety percent of the people have been with us from the beginning and have built everything together with Dushyant and me. Only a few of them came directly from the industry. In many cases, they have had to learn by doing. But everyone always gives everything.
Would you like to tell us something personal about yourself?
Hemant Mehta: I am 49 years old, married, and I have an 18-year-old son who also likes to take pictures. He wants to become a filmmaker. My wife is a teacher at a kindergarten school. I like to watching films and traveling.
Thank you very much for the exciting conversation! We are very much looking forward to our new partnership!