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A PASSION for ART



Some of the sketches drawn by Ananda Rao kept on display.

In this computer age where people hardly have any time to stand and stare, he can make a sketch of their face in about five minutes, and to his credit none of his clients has ever been dissatisfied with his work. They willingly sit motionless to get a pencil sketch of their image. Scores of others gather around him to watch his deft strokes, as he catches the image of his subject, on paper.

At 64, this awe-inspiring artist is drawing on an average the sketches of 15 visitors to the Trade Fair Exhibition at Railway New Colony grounds every day. Timmaraju Ananda Rao has been painting and making pencil sketches for half-a-century now, but is neither tired nor sick of it.

His first love for the brush started when he was in his early teens in Mumbai. His father was a head clerk in the Military Engineering Service and did not want his son to waste his time in pursuing that art. Ananda Rao, however, used to spend his time watching the artists at Flora Fountain in Mumbai painting hoardings. "I learnt the art by seeing and have no formal training," he says.

He painted hoardings of Selvel in Mumbai for 10 years before moving to Chennai on the transfer of his father. He came to Visakhapatnam 32 years ago and settled here painting hoardings. "I educated my daughter and son and built a house near the Port Hospital on the money earned through paintings," he says with pride in his eyes.



T. Ananda Rao. ---Photos: K.R. Deepak

His daughter, T. Nagamani, has done medicine from Andhra Medical College in 1990 and son, who has inherited the genes of his father in painting, did a computer course and is now earning a handsome salary designing glow-signs.

When his children are well settled, what is the need for him to work for long hours? "I don't want to sit idle besides I love my work." He has been a regular at the exhibition during the last three years. He charges Rs.30 for a sketch and Rs.800 for an oil painting. "There is not much art awareness in the `City of Destiny' and there are no takers if the prices are higher. I would have charged double the rates for the same work in bigger cities like Hyderabad and Mumbai."

Ananda Rao had worked at the Rangaraya Medical College in Kakinada between 1964 and 1972 as an artist-cum-photographer, and had also served as an artist for `Vijayachitra', a Telugu film magazine, which used to be published from Chennai, for two years. It was his independent outlook that made him quit these jobs and work on his own.

Recalling his early career with pride, he says: "My paintings of the inventor of the tetracycline, Yellapragada Subba Rao, which I had drawn in the late 1950s still adorn the walls of the Poona Medical College and a few of my paintings also adorn the walls of the Rangaraya Medical College."

Ananda Rao has done over 5,000 pencil sketches and 2,000 oil paintings in addition to hoardings. That's not all; he takes painting classes for school children at Railway New Colony twice a week, and for adults at the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. His ambition is to teach the art to children from poor families free of cost, if the Government provides accommodation to take the classes.

Want to catch him in action? Visit the trade fair exhibition.

B. MADHU GOPAL

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