His sand marvels have won many laurels for India at the global stage, but Sudarshan Patnaik whose name evokes images of memorable sculptures built in sand, is pained by the fact that the government of India has never recognised his achievements.
Mr. Patnaik, who brought to life with sand the stirring image of Mahatma Gandhi leading the Dandi March at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony here, says encouragement or at least a word of appreciation from the government was something he yearns for.
The remarkable sand artist is just back from the United States where he won three prestigious prizes at the North American championship, and is excited to have made it to the Games ceremony.
“Sometimes I feel disappointed that despite all the feats over the years, the government has never even sent a note of appreciation to me,” he says with a sigh.
Back home in Puri, the young artist runs a school dedicated to train students in his unique art form and wants to popularise sand art among young Indians.
“At the international level, it is like a sport. I have friends from other countries who have done well at the international circuit in sand art, and they are pampered by their governments,” he told PTI in an interview.
“It is sometimes disappointing when you receive no recognition,” says Mr. Patnaik, whose plea in sand seeking help for the victims of the 2001 tsunami, is etched in memory.
The Puri—based artist comes up with frequent topical masterpieces on the beaches of Puri —— be it a natural disaster, climate change or a festival —— his art form is always ready to send out a message.
At Berlin’s world championship, Mr. Patnaik had won the peoples’ choice award for the best sand sculptor five times —— a record in itself. At Moscow early this year, his sand creation of Taj Mahal —— Shah Jahan’s monument of love —— won another special prize.
The world renowned artist also stole many a heart in Canada earlier this year and returned with the peoples’ choice prize in CNE 1st International sand sculpting competition.
“Some amount of encouragement or recognition by the government would do a lot of good to the confidence of my students, who then in turn would be encouraged to take up this art form further ahead,” he said, indicating his desire to meet the President of India.
He said after a number of achievements on the international stage, he also wrote to the Prime Minister, to bring his feats to his notice but he did not receive any response from his office.
“I hope the Ministry of Culture would at least send me a congratulatory message,” he said.
At the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, Mr. Patnaik, along with three of his students, used sand to recreate the magnificent image of Gandhi at the helm of the landmark Dandi March of 1931, as A. R. Rahman’s composition of the Mahatma’s favourite ‘bhajan’ played in the backdrop.
This, he said, was his new experiment of using sand on glass slabs. Interestingly, some of the students of his academy popularised this form of sand art by performing it at a TV show.
“What I normally do at beaches needs tonnes of sand.
But, as Delhi is not Puri, we chose to take forward this particular experiment,” he said.
While the state government of Orissa has felicitated him for his achievements, Mr. Patnaik believes the fact that he lives in Puri, away from the spotlight of a metropolitan city is one of the reasons why he is not taken note of.
“Perhaps, things would have been different, if I had lived in Delhi or for that matter Mumbai,” he said.