Ramanjaneyulu is a gardener, carpenter, caterer, housekeeper and mason. But his heart lies in art and he dreams of holding an exhibition of his works
The wedding season is a busy time for Ramanjaneyulu—for not only is he a caterer but also a portrait artist! “It all began in Guntakal in Andhra Pradesh when I was 11 years old,” says Ramu, as he is called by all who know him. “My mother would not let me go out and play during summer. Instead, she would draw something on a paper and ask me to copy it.” Art was in Ramu’s genes. His first guru, his mother, did not attend school, but developed an interest in drawing watching her brother, who too did not have any formal training. His mother, he says, would draw pictures and send them to self-help groups who would display them at some exhibitions. Ramu’s aim was to direct films and that took him to Chennai where he worked under various directors of the Telugu movie industry, again as an artist. “When the industry moved to Hyderabad, I moved to Bangalore as my uncle told me that artists have better future here.”
It was a tough journey for him as nobody came forward to help him pursue his passion. He was forced to do odd jobs. “That is when I began doing everything — cooking, gardening, masonry, carpentry, whitewashing, housekeeping, and I still do them all,” he says. The artist in him did not hibernate. His passion led him to Ken School of Arts where he completed a five-year course overcoming several obstacles.
Ramu emerged from the school as a professional artist, but continued with his other professions. “I worked as a housekeeping staff in a newspaper, where the editor asked me to draw a few pictures for the paper. But that was only for a few months. Majestic bus stand was my home and wherever I went, I did odd jobs that became my main source of income.”
Ramu’s came when he met Frinto, an artist at Adugodi, who taught him spray painting. Ramu then met Vittal Bhandari and Preethi Bhandari of Little Elly School and they gave him a chance to paint cartoon characters on their school walls. “I am now their artist. Wherever they open a school, I paint there,” he smiles. But owing to financial constraints, he continues his other professions too. “Anywhere I go for work, I take up other work also. When I do gardening, I look for carpentry work there also. I have people to assist me. That keeps me going.”
Ramu, whose favourite styles are composition and realistic works, wishes to hold an exhibition. “That is my dream, but I am yet to get sponsors. The money I get out of all the work I do is enough only to make ends meet. Art is my life now. I see art in everything — be it cooking, serving or whitewashing.”
Ramu’s works are bought by hotels and corporate houses too. “They are all willing to buy my work, not sponsor an exhibition.” Ramu can be contacted at 9916053566.
This column features those who choose to veer off the beaten track.