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New ideas in old bottles

For 22-year-old B. Sridhar, painting inside bottles is a passion.

HE SAYS it is a hobby, but his mother thinks it is crazy. Nevertheless, for B. Sridhar painting inside bottles is a way of proving that he is different.

"I always wanted to do things differently," says this 22 year-old from K.K. Nagar, who has more than 300 bottle paintings to his credit.

It was during his tenth standard that Sridhar discovered his talent. "I went to participate in a painting competition in Chengalpattu. The medium was paper, but I decided to try it on a glass tumbler instead." Though his painting of Sivaji didn't win a prize, his school appreciated his efforts and recognised him with a first prize. "This was the beginning," he says. "Ever since, whenever I get time I paint." From 12-inch liquor bottles to one-inch scent bottles, Sridhar's paintings come in all sizes and shapes.

But it is the faces of political personalities that he prefers doing, "as it is easier for people to identify their faces on the bottle." Among his prized possessions are a bottle with over 180 miniature faces of various national and state level leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, and a portrait of the Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar, spread across 100 bottles, like a jigsaw puzzle.

But then painting inside bottles is easier said than done. "You have to be extremely careful while using the brush and colours to get the right proportions or else you are bound to mess it up," he says.

There are times when after hours of hard work, Sridhar has had to re-do the paintings due to carelessness. "It is frustrating," he says. But, to avoid hitches, he first sketches the picture outside the bottle and then draws an outline from inside before using a suitable brush to paint the image. "The smaller the mouth of a bottle, the harder it is to paint. Most of the time I have to buy bottles at Rs. 50 to Rs. 70 a piece," he says. But his mother complains, "I have a tough time keeping the bottles used for storing provisions away from his sight."

Sridhar's next project is to paint the Taj Mahal on 1,000 vials. "So far I have collected 700 from various government hospitals," says Sridhar undoing a gunnysack full of vials. "Maybe I will collect the remaining 300 in the next few days," he says, ignoring his mother's frown.


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