KARNATAKA

A family's endeavour to paint the Mahabharata

TEAMWORK: Bhanubhai Dudhat (left), Prabha Dudhat (centre) and Kailash Dudhat displaying their painting at the Mahabharata Utsav in Bangalore. — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

TEAMWORK: Bhanubhai Dudhat (left), Prabha Dudhat (centre) and Kailash Dudhat displaying their painting at the Mahabharata Utsav in Bangalore. — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.  

Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: Around twenty years ago Bhanubhai Dudhat, a fine arts college professor in Gujarat, took his mother Santobha Dudhat to the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.

"This seems similar to Indraprastha, the capital of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata," she told her son. The reference to Indraprastha inspired her son to attempt a unique experiment in representing the 1.2-lakh verse epic through paintings. Though reluctant at first, his mother started painting the verses in 1989 with her son narrating from the epic. Over a period of time her daughter-in-law Prabha and grandson Kailash helped her in the task and together they have painted 3,000 verses of the epic.

The family's work is on display at the nine-day Mahabharat Utsav being held at the National College grounds from Sunday.

"There is still a long way to finish depicting all the verses in the epic," Mr. Dudhat says. He has brought 500 metres of the 3,000 metre-long painting to the exhibition.

He says it was more than an urge to be different that prompted him and his family to take up the task of unveiling the hidden treasures of the epic. "There is no better way of representing the epic than through painting. People can understand the epic by seeing the pictures," he adds.

Mr. Dhudat says his family is able to work together without the generation gap coming in the way.

Having retired from teaching after 30 years, he says he encouraged his wife and son to acquire degrees in fine art. "With my mother, who is now 90, I had to make her understand the concept of each verse," he adds.

The family starts working in the morning with Mr. Dhudat and his son reading each verse and working on the concept. "There are differences in interpretation between my son and I, which my wife balances out with her inputs," he says. Every morning Mr. Dhudat starts on the rough outline of the painting to which his wife adds the finishing touches. "On Saturdays and Sundays we all sit together to paint," he says.

Their painting was first exhibited in 1991 in Udupi. An offer was made to take their work to South Africa.

"However, my family declined to part with it. We prefer to give it to the Indira Gandhi Kalakendra in New Delhi," Mr. Dhudat says. Just as he passed his skills to his son, Mr. Dhudat wants his son to do the same and inspire future generations of their family.

Mr. Dhudat is also working with his son on creating a 1,500-page book of pictures on Kalidasa's Meghadooth and Vikramoruasheeya.

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