Interview Art

Chari reaches out to the stars through Sammohanam

An illustration by P S Chari used for the film; (below) Chari (in orange) with the Sammohanam team

An illustration by P S Chari used for the film; (below) Chari (in orange) with the Sammohanam team  

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P S Chari, who worked on the illustrations for ‘Sammohanam’, holds forth on his work that stems from real life observations

“I might have done better work over the years, but when your work is visible on the large screen, a lot more people notice it and respond to it,” says Chari P S, an illustrator, cartoonist and painter. The artist who works with the Telugu daily Andhra Jyothy, perked up the proceedings in writer-director Mohana Krishna Indraganti’s romantic comedy Sammohanam with his illustrations and paintings. “I got lucky since the hero’s (Sudheer Babu) character is that of an illustrator,” laughs Chari.

Chari’s self-effacing comments aren’t misplaced. It isn’t often that we come across illustrations adding to the tapestry of a film’s setting, permeating through the story. Chari remembers meeting Indraganti during the director’s initial years of filmmaking, when he made a mark with the National Award winning film Grahanam. Years later, this opportunity came through a mutual friend.

Realistic approach

Since the hero plays an artist who illustrates children’s books, the team was on the lookout for an artist who would fit the bill. Chari has had the experience of illustrating and designing a children’s book (Theeyani Chaduvu) and showed some of his recent works to the director.

Chari reaches out to the stars through Sammohanam

Taking a closer to real life approach, Chari suggested that the mood board in the hero’s room be adorned with scribbles, sketches and unfinished illustrations instead of completed works. The touch of imperfection, he felt, would look real. That apart, Chari was required to depict varied expressions and moods on a number of eggs for a scene. “I coloured the eggs and then spent a night and the half of the following day to do the drawings. But when I went to the set, the art director (S Ravinder) felt it would be better to draw on the original eggs than the coloured ones. They had a point and knew what would go with the colour scheme of the scene and I did another set in three hours,” he recollects. But the highlight were the title cards and the children’s book Taralu Digi Vachina Vela shown towards the end of the film. Chari did nearly 20 illustrations for the short story and most of them were used, punctuated with brief story narrations by Indraganti. The first copy of the book was unveiled by actor Chiranjeevi soon after the film’s release.

Chari reaches out to the stars through Sammohanam

Chari considers this film sojourn a welcome addition to his already diverse portfolio. A self-taught artist, the rootedness in his work reflects his small town moorings. His family hails from Siddipet but Chari spent his early years in Pedda Shankarampet in Medak district. His father was a school headmaster and inclined towards art and encouraged Chari when he noticed him taking to art in school. “I used to send a few cartoons and illustrations to Andhra Bhoomi daily and back then, it was a matter of honour to see your work published in their weekly magazine section,” he says.

He doesn’t regret not going to an art school and says he honed his skills observing other artists, people around him and “Google has thrown open the world to us. It’s easier to learn techniques from across the world if we want to.”

Chari reaches out to the stars through Sammohanam

Chari took to painting in 2006 and has showcased his paintings in several group shows in the city and other metros. “People and lifestyles of Telangana have been my favourite themes, though now I feel the need to explore other areas,” he says. The artist rues that not many people are aware of the difference between cartoons and illustrations, and feels that as the scope for both is limited in mainstream media, the tribe that revels in these art forms is also diminishing. “But there’s a lot of happiness in doing what you want to do; that keeps me going,” he says. In the pipeline is a coffee table book on the Krishnapatnam port for which he has illustrated. Is he open to illustrating for more films? “These opportunities don’t come very often. It was good to work with a team that understood art and a story that required it,” he signs off.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 12:52:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/chari-reaches-out-to-the-stars-through-sammohanam/article24253064.ece

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