|ARTS TRIBUNE||Friday, September 21, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
Chiselling works of divine sculptor
Boy with future in music
Where was India ?
Chiselling works of divine sculptor
NATURE is in itself an inspiration, encouragement and the best canvas for an artist to experiment, develop and grow. Driftwood pieces are the most original and naturally sculptured form of art at its best. Shaped and drifted by the vagaries of weather, they provide an artist with off-the-peg ideas.
Yet, there are only a few, blessed with an artistic bent of mind, who have an insight to recognise these beautiful creations. Rajesh Sood, a Kasauli-based seller of hardware items, has been working on driftwood pieces for over a decade now. His fascination for nature led him to frequent forests where besides the scenic splendour driftwood pieces enraptured his imagination. Discovering the artist in himself was a chance when on one such occasion he carried home a piece of dead wood and worked on it to give it an appealing shape and appearance. The endeavour was appreciated by all and it acted as a confidence booster.
Thereafter, his trekkings in the Odda forests fetched him an occasional interesting piece or two. For one whole year he adorned his home with many such pieces. Then in 1994, he decided to assess its market value and exhibited one such piece in his shop. It was an instant sellout and fetched him a modest Rs 300. Thereafter, Rajesh started making these pieces on a commercial scale.
"Work on each piece is done according to its requirement and the unwanted portions are removed. The focus remains on maintaining the original shape," he points out. Each piece is chiselled with a knife and smoothened with a sandpaper. The exhaustive exercise is manual and followed by the finishing and polishing. Attack by fungi and termites particularly threaten these well-embellished pieces. Anti-fungal polish is enbalmed on these pieces to safeguard them. Rajesh proudly claims that these pieces are the only handicraft items manufactured in the town and its periphery.
He tries to shape each piece into a versatile item, which can find use at home. Customers value each piece according to its use, he asserts. Likewise, he has converted these driftwood pieces into tables, lamps and decorative pieces, both hanging and standing.
The exposed roots, drifted twigs uprooted portions of bushes and trees provide him with ample raw material. At times even the villagers fetch him some interesting pieces which they have gathered while collecting. These people have begun to understand and appreciate his requirements.
His work found admirers in places as far as Amritsar, Ludhiana Chandigarh and Delhi. They have even exported his pieces in bulk. Procuring such orders has been a big encouragement for him. But living in a small place like Kasauli has proved to be a disadvantage as his hard work here is yet to bring recognition in a big way, bemoans Rajesh.
He has been working laboriously on a unique collection, which he calls the wooden corals. He plans to exhibit this collection through a website and has, therefore, not displayed any piece in his shop. Resembling the coral reefs, these pieces are unique and original wood pieces in their natural colour and texture.
They range from miniature-sized items to 5-6 foot-long driftwood pieces. A look at this collection mesmerises one at the natural artistry and fills one with wonder and admiration for his insight in recognising them.
Yet another variety is the terra cotta collection which is also slated to be launched through the website to attract buyers from far and wide. This unique ensemble is carefully selected to target buyers with a refined artistic taste, explains Rajesh. An effort has been made to maintain the natural sheen by leaving them unpolished.
His entire collection of some 500 odd immaculately done pieces appears like big and small animals. Well-chiselled beaks appear like a bevy of birds nestling on a branch. Yet other pieces with entangled branches give the appearance of the horns of a deer. In yet another piece, two pelican-like birds appear like trying to grab a prey with their beaks.
The adroit artist has been working dexterously for his website collection. Experimenting with all available material, this transcendental artist takes care not to uproot any wood piece and cause erosion. He uses whatever is naturally available.
Rajesh hopes to get recognition from the state government. This will enable him to hold an exhibition, which at present is an exorbitant proposition, and can draw more buyers for his art pieces. A workaholic, he abhors the idea of sitting idle and is persistently engaged in shaping his innovative ideas. His finesse as an artist is improving and growing with each piece he works at. He can be contacted at the following e-mail address:eureka email@example.com
Boy with future in music
THE place was Mayo College for Girls, Ajmer the occasion was a music contest and the participants came from 20 public schools from different parts of the country. Among them was 13-year-old Sumangal Arora, a Class IX student of Yadavindra Public School, Patiala. Such was this teenager’s performance that no one was surprised when the judges named him for the first prize in light classical music (vocal).
Music is in his blood. He started taking lessons in classical vocal music from his grandfather, Dr Dev Krishan Arora, when he was in his fifth class. Though a dentist by profession, Dr Arora had been brought up in the classical music tradition. According to him, the family had been practising classical music for generations. Some of his ancestors had written books on classical music, besides composing certain ragas.
The talent inherited from his ancestors and a strong will to achieve higher goals, gives young Sumangal the ability to go far in the field of classical music. Already, his voice has been heard on Jalandhar Doordarshan, and also at the prestigious Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan at Jalandhar.
Sumangal is a scholarship holder of the centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), Delhi, and has done a four-year music course from Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh. He was honoured by the North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC) for his excellence in Indian classical music.
He has also taken lessons from Dr Surinder Kapila, a retired Principal of State College, Patiala, and got a flair of the well-known Patiala gharana. These days he is learning classical music from Principal S.S. Kareer, a former head of the Postgraduate Department of Music, Government College for Women, Patiala.
On Independence Day, Sumangal was honoured with a ‘C’ certificate and a memento by the Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh.
Where was India ?
THAt the foreign satellite channels are pointedly Western-orientated, even when telecasting to on-Western parts of the world, such as the sub-continent and eastwards, is amply proved, for instance, in their coverage of sports. British county cricket matches, American baseball, golf and motor racing in Europe, take precedence over India-Sri Lanka cricket tests. I am not referring to the sports channels such as Star Sports and ESPN, which are even opting for Hindi, but to the news bulletins of the BBC and CNN. The last did not even cover cricket until very recently, sports in America taking precedence over everything else, no doubt mostly for Americans overseas. This slant became very obvious too, during the recent horrendous happenings in New York and Washington, unless it was a non-Western country of immediate importance to the USA. Pakistan, of course, got top billing for obvious reasons. But even when India, mostly the Indian Prime Minister, sent its sympathy and support very early on, it was North Korea and Lebanon’s messages which were mentioned far ahead of India’s. And Israeli politicians got far more coverage than the Palestinian and other Arab leaders. Then when it came to statistics about Indians dead or missing in either New York or individual casualties on the hijacked planes, it was the British, the Germans and other Western casualties which were mentioned, Japan coming much after. The number of Indians missing in New York were mentioned only on September 19, the day I am writing this column and long after the Europeans. Casualties are casualties, no matter from which sex, country or religion. But clearly, in the eyes of the Western channels, Western, more specifically white casualties are more equal than others. But surely when programmes target non-Western areas they should also include facts, whether statistical or otherwise, as well as human interest stories, of interest to those areas.
Mercifully, the India media which made a late start soon picked up and news concerning Indians were reported by their own reporters flown to the USA, Star news leading in this respect. Helplines were instituted, websites offered and continually running captioned headlines running at the bottom of the screen as well as constant reactions from Indian diplomats, kept Indians informed about their near and dear ones. But except when President Bush was visiting mosques or making policy statements on the minorities, news about attacks on Indians were quite scarce on the Western channels although our own channels filled in. But as during the Agra Summit, one noticed a lack of aggressive and informative public relations and briefing of the foreign press and media by the Indian Government, which seemed content in feeding the Indian channels but showed litte enterprise or initiative when it came to CNN or the BBC.
All the same, I would like to thank the two foreign news channels most watched in India, CNN and the BBC, for giving us two rare and very frank and chilling insights into the anticipated American armed intervention in Afghanistan for Operation Osama bin Laden.
One was the long interview with General Hamid Gul, former head of the ISI, who gave a surprisingly frank and informative account of the reactions to the participation of Pakistan in the Afghan situation in Pakistan itself, likely alignments by different groups as well as General Musharraf’s internal difficulties in a very tight situation.
Even more chilling was the account by a Russian general of the hopeless odds against which he and his colleagues had to fight in their 10 frustating years fighting the elusive Afghans on their own soil, which ultimately led to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. He said in so many words that it was impossible to beat the Afghans in their rugged and difficult terrain, as everyone from Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan down to the British and the Russians had learnt to their cost. He strongly advised the Americans to avoid the same fate and humiliation. Wonder if George Bush was listening.