Koteswara Rao has made 5,000 models in the last 35 years

Having started his career making replicas of actual ships built at the Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), he weathered the storms of life for three-and-a-half decades.

Looking back, he feels he could have had a better life as a worker in the HSL. But he has no regrets, as his name on the replicas that adorn the boardrooms of various companies and laboratories of engineering colleges would remind generations to come of his workmanship.

Meet, Basavani Koteswara Rao, 50, of Malkapuram, who has churned around 5,000 models in the last 35 years.

Several of his kin — grandfathers, father, brother, and some of his uncles were all involved in the construction of real ships at shipyards. But, he wanted to do something different and ended up making replicas.

Koteswara Rao learnt the art from his elder brother, who had joined the HSL. “In those days, while a small model would fetch around Rs.150 a piece, the monthly salary of a HSL worker was Rs.150. Today, while the cost of a similar model would be around Rs.3,000, the monthly salary of a worker has increased more than 100-fold,” he says.

He shows a copy of the order placed by the HSL for supply of a scale model of a ship at a cost of Rs.7,975 in July, 1984.

Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) placed an order for supply of a model of the refinery, showing the important roads and landmarks in the plant in December 1991 at a cost of Rs.5,000.

Apart from ships, he has made models of submarines, buildings, ‘social forestry model’ for the Forest Department in the district, and models for Hyderabad Museum and for private persons.