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Dauntless spirit

Public acknowledgement of his works is all this caricaturist craves for a lifetime of talent

SPRIGHTLY, AGILE and full of verve, 66 year-old Nagappa Dattatreya Adam, can surprise any onlooker with his ability to draw caricatures in just 15 minutes.

What makes his achievement even more distinct is that he has his origins in a humble weaver's family.

A fifth standard dropout, Adam initially joined the family's trade to make designs for the famed Solapur bedsheets. But with not much money pouring in to make both ends meet, Adam subsequently switched over to odd jobs, working as a tea stall boy and an office assistant.

But a latent desire to look beyond the realm of bed sheet designs generated in him a passion to draw caricatures of prominent persons; a hobby which he continues to pursue even now, in old age. Settled in Solapur, Adam who is a Telugu from the Padmashali community claims to have drawn caricatures of over 1000 prominent personalities of the world during the past 50 years.

The list includes Giani Zail Singh, Rajiv Gandhi, Shankar Dayal Sharma, Dilip Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Shabana Azmi and Anoushka Shankar.

The only recognition so far for his works have been a pat on his back or an autograph on the sketches by the celebrities, which Adam proudly displays to his friends and well-wishers.

"I never expected or demanded money for my works, though occasionally some people rewarded me with a few rupees," he maintains. Over the years he has participated in over two dozen shows including exhibitions, documentary film festivals and seminars and displayed his works.

Appreciation sans reward

For Adam it was a momentous occasion when in March 1990, he was permitted to hold a one-man show of his works at the Mumbai Films Divisions office.

In 1997, he designed the graphics for a documentary Gandhi for the Films Division, Mumbai. Adam has now planned an animated film on the Australian cricket captain, Ricky Ponting and his role in the 2003 World Cup triumph.

The Australian government has appreciated his gesture, but he does not have the required Rs. 25 lakhs to take up the project, he says.

There is a tinge of regret in this caricaturist, who says his works have received, "inadequate recognition" from society. "I have laboured for 50 years without commercialising the art.

But till date there is no recognition either by Government or by society."


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