At 324 Triplicane High Road in Chennai, the staff of the Urdu language evening paper The Musalman literally write the headlines every day.
It takes three hours for the three katibs – specialist calligraphers and reporters – to pen a page, before it is turned into a negative, printed, folded and sold to its 21,000 subscribers. Late-breaking news stories previously meant that whole pages needed to be re-written, but a blank panel in the corner of the front page now caters for that event. Mistakes on the other hand, can lead to a whole page being scrapped and rewritten. The tradition of calligraphy in India dates back to the days when entire Koran’s were hand-written and up until the 1980s all Urdu newspapers were made that way.