Creative hands behind those mementos
A cursory glance inside their house or at their modest office near Asilmetta would give an impression that either the house is full of accomplished sportsmen or cultural greats. Every nook and corner is stacked with colourful and shining mementos of different shapes and sizes. Wonder who they are?
Meet the father-son duo of T. Raju and Dhananjaya, the makers of mementos and sport shields. Though they have not won any award or have been felicitated by any cultural forum, their signature is distinctly visible in almost every award or memento that changes hands on the dais on a regular basis in this district.
"Be it a political meeting, a cultural programme, a sporting activity or for that matter a simple felicitation function, it is our mementos that adorn the dais on most occasions," says Dhananjaya.
The family was into the making of brass utensils before migrating from Parvatipuram seven years ago. "Manufacturing small brass utensils and etching designs on them had been our hereditary trade. But in the present context the use of brass utensils have largely reduced so we shifted to memento making ever since we moved here," says Raju.
It was during a casual visit to the city that Dhananjaya had come across Bhaskara Rao, the manager of Kalabharathi auditorium, and it was he who motivated him to try his hand at manufacturing mementos, as he was already into the trade of etching and embossing designs on brass. After a brief training under the expert memento maker, Raja Charyulu of Ponduru, the duo embarked on this trade.
The father and son duo of T. Raju and Dhananjaya. --Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam
"The initial days were hard as we were new to this place and the trade. It took us a couple of years to pass on the message to the potential buyers that there is someone who could do the job here and they need not go to Vijayawada or Chennai for fetching them. In the beginning we concentrated only on the cultural field and had to depend solely on the orders from Kalabharathi. Slowly, we moved to the sports segment with the help of S. Kodandaramiah, the president of the AP Volleyball Association," says Dhananjaya.
It is not that they are the only memento makers in the city. There are a few scattered across the district. But the duo leads the rest when it comes to the making of mementos using metal like brass, silver and stainless steel since it had been their craft since decades.
Types of mementos
Basically mementos are made up of wood and plastic moulds or a combination of wood and brass. "In case of mementoes with plastic moulds the prefabricated plastic moulds are brought from New Delhi or Mumbai and the logos and the messages of the customers are printed and pasted on them, whereas in the case of brass or stainless steel mementoes the work is more cumbersome. Either we have to mould the required figure in dice or etch them on metal sheets using the chemical process," says the son.
No memento work is complete without a good design, be it the logo or the shape. While the more experienced father takes care of production, the son is more into designing and marketing of the products. "Design plays an important role in our business. The customer just walks in with his ideas; it is my duty to transform his or her theme into reality. Designing again involves two aspects: designing of the shape and logo with the text matter. I do most of my designs in the computer using packages like Coral Draw and Photoshop. Once the design is approved it goes for production in our workshop, while the text matter and the logo goes for printing to a screen or an offset printer. The final stage is all about fixing and pasting," says Dhananjaya.
"The business would have been better if more people knew about us. Still many place their orders through sport shops and novelty stores despite our rates being 40 per cent less than the retail outlets. But no complaints; slow and steady wins the race. We have a few regular clients like Kalabharathi, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam Port Trust and a few sports associations in the district which come to us directly, and a few big ones like Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, Naval Dockyard and LG Polymers come through middlemen.
"As far as the business flow is concerned, it is marginally below the break-even point throughout the year. But it picks up and clears the deficit during certain eventful days like Republic Day, Independence Day or Teachers Day. The business graph also swings up during major happenings like Ugadi Puraskar functions or during major sporting events like the recent National Games or the Afro Asian Games," says the youngster.
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