The four-and-a-half foot portrait of the legend is surrounded by national symbols and smaller sketches of personalities linked to cricket, Sachin or the nation.

In the last three years, Venkatesh Kandunoori and his friends have travelled to eight States with his large sketch of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and collected 98 autographs of national and international personalities on it. All that’s left are autographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. After getting these, Venkatesh plans to present the painting to President Pranab Mukherjee.

However, after spending forty days in the Capital, Venkatesh has still not got an appointment with either leader. While Mr. Modi is expected to return from Bhutan by Tuesday, Ms. Gandhi is leaving for the United States for medical treatment and will only return after three weeks.

“I started on this sketch just before the cricket World Cup in 2011. It took me six months to complete it. In the last three years, I have spent Rs. 5 lakh travelling and approaching renowned persons to sign my painting. I financed this by selling other works of mine,” Venkatesh told The Hindu.

The four-and-a-half foot portrait of the legend is surrounded by national symbols and smaller sketches of personalities linked to cricket, Sachin or the nation.

These include former cricket captains Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar, national and spiritual personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and Sathya Sai Baba, India’s first cricket captain C.K. Nayudu, Sachin’s first coach Ramakant Achrekar, cricketers Don Bradman and Vivian Richards.

It also features the Indian Koh-i-noor Diamond on the British crown.

“This,” according to Venkatesh, “symbolises that even though we don’t have the diamond with us these people are our koh-i-noors.”

Those who autographed this epic painting include President Mukherjee, former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, former Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, social activist Anna Hazare, musicians Lata Mangeshkar and A.R. Rahman, the 2011 Indian cricket team which includes Sachin himself and film stars such as Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai.

The person who played the most hard to get so far, was Mr. Kalam. “It took me two years to get his autograph. Finally, I got it during this visit to Delhi... Travelling everywhere by train, I spent sleepless nights protecting the painting. I have done this to attract government and the public to support and fund sports,” explained Venkatesh who is currently put up with friends in Saket.

A student of the Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University in Hyderabad, Venkatesh has also created a realist statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The foot-tall brass statue, which has ‘UNITY’ embossed on its base in silver, resembles Soviet-style statues with flowing garments and chiselled expressions.

“I have already planned my next work. It will be a timeline of Indian History from 3000 BC. But first, I need these two autographs to complete a century and give it to the President. I have already spent Rs. 60,000 in Delhi. A taxi, to transport this painting to and from various offices, in order to get an appointment with the leaders, costs Rs. 2000 a day. But I won’t give up,” he told The Hindu.

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