People U.M.T. M. Sumesh celebrates Independence Day with candle carvings of leaders

U.M.T. M. Sumesh pays homage of freedom fighters and national leaders on Independence Day with candle wax. He meticulously carves out a face with a razor, delicately highlights the features with a sketch pen and gives a finishing touch with water colours. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose stares out of a candle head complete with his military gear and glasses. The coloured glasses are made from thread.

A technician at ABT Maruti, Sumesh spent 20 days and used up three boxes of candles to create hand-carvings of the bust of 24 national leaders. “It’s my way of paying homage to the leaders,” he says.

He started off with Mahatma Gandhi. “It was very easy as he wears no shirt,” smiles the young artist. He looks up to leaders such as educationist Dr.S. Radhakrishnan, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and Indira Gandhi and all of them find a place in his collection. “I replicate the face from a photograph. Then highlight the shape of the face, eyebrows, nose… and ensure that the image looks like the personality.”

He spent over an hour on every carving. “It was easy to carve the face and bust of leaders like Kamarajar, Vinobaji and Abdul Kalam Azad. I took more time for Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, to get his blazer, the tie and the glasses right,” he explains.

He used a technique of scoring with razor and then painting with sketch pens to create a look alike of Rabindranath Tagore with his flowing beard. A vibrant use of mix-and-match colours give life to the hand-carvings of Bhagat Singh, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, to name a few. Bharathiar’s moustache stands out, as do his trademark black coat and the white turban.

Sumesh plans to exhibit the collection at colleges and schools to make students aware of the pre-independent history and to spare a thought for the leaders. “My objective is to get people to remember the leaders on the occasion of Independence Day,” he says. U.M.T stands for Unnaal Mudiyum Thambi, an association led by UMT Raja. It identifies and promotes people who are talented in music, dance, education, and the arts.