Mala launched her professional career in 1986. Her work appeared in India in newspapers and periodicals such as Swagat, Desh, Discover India, Frontline, Insight Guide, ndian Express, Inner Eye, Namaste, Sananda, Signature, Sportstar, Times of India etc., and also abroad in the BBC Bulletin, The Cricketer and the India Weekly Journal in London; in 'Close Up', an Australian sports magazine,in a German tourist guide titled ‘Indien’, and also in several books and book covers in India and abroad.
She taught Photography at The School, KFI, Chennai, during 1986/1989. In 1993 she graduated in Applied Art and Design Studies at the London Guildhall University. In London, she was awarded the Art Prize by the Owen Rowley Art Foundation in 1993. She was also among the prize winners in ‘Our Big City’ competition organized jointly by the Evening Standard Newspaper Group and Carlton TV in London in 1993. In 1994 she was nominated for the Leopold Godowsky Jr. colour photography Awards of the Photographic Resource Centre, Boston. In 2007. The Academy of Visual Media, New Delhi, awarded Mala their “Achievement Award” for outstanding contribution to Photography. She received an award at the Second China International Digital Photography Exhibition in 2011. The Bangladesh Photographic Society awarded her an Honourary Fellowship in 2014.
In 2002 BLINK, a publication by the Phaidon Press, London, featured her among 100 contemporary Photographers of the world. Mala conducted Workshops on Colour Photography at Dhaka and Sylhet in 2003 at the invitation of Drik, Bangladesh. In 2006 she was invited by the Peoples’ Republic of China to a photo-event titled “Xinjiang in the eyes of Chinese and Foreign photographers”, and again in 2011 in Lishui to participate in Seminars and exhibitions organized by the China International Photography Museum and Gallery Alliance, of which she is a member.
She has jointly authored books on Kolkata’s heritage titled ‘Colonial Calcutta, Religious Architecture as a Mirror of Empire’ (Bloomsbury 2012), ‘Where Gods Reside : Sacred places of Kolkata’ (Niogi Books 2018) and ‘Adda : The College Street Coffee House’ (Notion Press, 2020).
Mala has held Solo exhibitions at : Cottons Centre London 1991&1992, St.Giles Church Oxford 1993, Sakshi Gallery Bangalore 1994, Y.B.Chavan Art Gallery Mumbai 1995, B.C.D. Gallery-Mumbai 1995, Sakshi Gallery Chennai 1995, Birla Academy Art Gallery Kolkata 1995, Nehru Centre Art Gallery Mumbai 1995, The Piramal Gallery Mumbai 1996, Lalit Kala Akademi New Delhi 1997, IIC Gallery New Delhi 1998, Lalit Kala Akademi Chennai 1999, Nehru Centre Art Gallery Mumbai 1999, La galerie de l’Alliance Française de Dhaka – Bangladesh 2000, Birla Academy Art Gallery Kolkata 2001, Academy of Fine Arts Kolkata, Gallerie Zen Bangalore 2002, Nandan Gallery Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan 2002, Academy of Fine arts Kolkata 2004, Gorky Sadan- Kolkata 2004, Academy of Fine Arts Kolkata 2006, IIC Gallery New Delhi 2006, Apparao Infinity Gallery New Delhi 2007, Akar Prakar Gallery Kolkata 2007, Academy of Fine Arts Kolkata 2007, Nehru Centre Art Gallery Mumbai in 2008, Nandan Gallery Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan 2008, Academy of Fine Art-Kolkata 2008, Festival of Tinou, Tino’s Island, Greece 2012, Qinghai Int’l Photography Art Festival, Xining, China, 2012, duets with a painter at Bengal Art Gallery, ICCR, Kolkata in January 2013 and Hirji Jehangir Gallery, Mumbai in Februay 2013, and a solo show at the India International Centre, Delhi in April 2013; Apparao Gallery, Chennai, February 2015, Dakhshinachitra, Chennai, August 2015, Ramsay Arts Festival, Cambridge, UK,September 2015 at Maya Arts Space, Kolkata, September 2015, at Lishui Photography Festival, China in November 2015 and at Wonderwall Gallery, Lado Sarai, New Delhi, in September 2016, at MKF Museum, Bangalore in June 2019 and a virtual exhibition at IIC New Delhi in July 2021 titled “Fleeting Footprints of Life”.
Mala participated in several Group Shows in London during 1991/1993. Also at “Women ’96”, an Art Front Group show at the Jehangir Art Gallery Mumbai and in Group exhibitions at the Nehru Centre Art Gallery, Mumbai 1997, Y.B. Chavan Art Gallery Mumbai 1998, Academy of Fine Arts Calcutta 2001, Guildhall University London 2001, Cancer Foundation exhibition at Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata 2005, ‘Kolkata Festival’ of Times of India at Town Hall Kolkata 2006, AVM Photography Award 2006 at the AIFACS, New Delhi, and in exhibitions organized by the Chinese Embassy in 2007 at the Birla Academy Art Gallery, Kolkata, & Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi, in “The Four Seasons in Xinjiang Photo Exhibition” organised by The Chinese Photographic Association in Beijing in March 2007 , Birla Academy Art Gallery in April 2009, ‘Urban India through the lens” at Habitat Centre in Sept 2009, International Artists Exhibition, Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2010, the 44th Annual Exhibition at Birla Academy of Art & Culture, Kolkata in January 2011, International exhibition titled “One Nest” at Birla Academy of Art and Culture in October 2011 and curated by her, Photography Museum of China at Lishui in November 2011, Piramal Gallery, NCPA, Mumbai 2012, Boichitra Gallery, Kolkata 2012, Kala Ghoda Art Festival, Mumbai 2012 , Masters of Indian Photography Archival Exhibition, NCPA, Mumbai 2012, Kolkata Photo Festival at ICCR, Kolkata and at Lishui Photography Museum, Lishui, China in 2013, at Soi Mela-Boi Mela at ICCR Kolkata, November 2013, at Maya Art Space, Kolkata 2013, at the IPMGA international photo festival at ICCR Kolkata 2014, at Wonderwall, Lado Sarai, New Delhi, October 2015, in 2016 at India Art Fair, New Delhi and at the Festival of Arts 2016 organized by the India International Centre, New Delhi, and in 2017 at the India Art Festival, Delhi, at the Birla Academy Art Gallery, Kolkata and a selected exhibitor at Lens Mens International Fotofestival at Overpelt, Belgium, in 2018 at the India Art Festival, Delhi, Hindustan Times Imagine Fest at the Nehru Gardens, New Delhi, at the Kolkata International Photo Festival, Kolkata, at the Academy of Creative Art, Kolkata, in November 2019 at the Lishui Photography Festival, China, and in 2020 in Maya Art Space, Kolkata and at the Delhi Art Fair.
AS CURATOR AND ORGANIZER
Mala was the Chairperson of the 2nd Congress of the International Photographic Museum and Gallery Alliance (IPMGA) which organized an international photo exhibition in February 2014 in Kolkata. She led a team of 5 photographers to a trip to Yunnan province and held a show of their work at Birla Academy Art Gallery in March 2015 sponsored by the Consulate General of PRC, Kolkata. In May 2016 she led another team of 3 photographers to Beijing and Mount Jiahua Shan in Anhui province in China, also sponsored by Consulate General of PRC in Kolkata.
Her work has been acquired by many Institutional collectors such as : Alliance Française de Dhaka, Archives of Centre For Photography As An Art Form at NCPA Mumbai, Archives of Metropolitan University London, India International Centre, New Delhi, JBNSTS, Kolkata and by Corporate bodies such as ABN Amro Bank Mumbai, Alliance Capital Inc, New York, Apcon Ltd Chennai, Carborandum Universal, Chennai, Delhi Development Authority, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, ICI Ltd Mumbai, ICICI Bank, Indian Oil Corpn. Kolkata, Office of the C & A.G New Delhi, Ministry of External Affairs New Delhi, Quality Audit & Services, Kolkata, Standard Chartered Bank Mumbai, Wooltop Weaves Pte Ltd., Chennai and by Louis Vuitton, New Delhi.