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Unsung hero

An amateur painter-cum-sweet vendor, Vijayaram contributes his bit to the preservation of nature and environment


HE REPLICATES the archetypal London road-side painter who could turn famous overnight and leave behind a school of thought or a host of biographers clamouring to get to the roots of his origin which would finally be a street. Vijayaram is one such flower that is born to blossom unseen.

Few would brake on the Indira Park road having zoomed down the new flyover and notice a yellow board nestled between the roadside trees that reads `Emerald Mithai' and fewer still would stop and see a bearded young man, with a mount and an easel immersed in giving the last strokes to a picture about to take form. Is it difficult to digest two diametrically opposed activities going on in a single individual? Surprising indeed, but not impossible.

Vijayaram is not just another artist dabbling in paints and peddling his wares. His modest and meek manner veils a burning zeal and spirit that can be interpreted in lay terms as social commitment.

Sensing the visitor's confused glances at the arresting picture paintings of Ravi Varma-like figurines framed against the walls of his studio and the array of sweets in the shop, he smiles, "One part of this shop is my daily bread and butter. The other is my soul's quest," he explains. I am not exactly a portrait painter. My interest lies in nature and earth. Both have the innate quality to oblige man; abuse of nature and mother earth spells doom for mankind."

Such firm beliefs are spoken in the softest of tones but one can't miss the fire in his twinkling eyes. And beliefs don't stop at just being stated. The convictions get immortalised on the canvas.

Doing his bit

"Painting huge pictures and putting them up in my studio or this shop might at the most draw a few art lovers and friends to appreciate my expressions. I want to do my bit to create awareness in all those around me to stop at some point and think about the destruction we cause to nature. I try to inculcate a sensitivity through this," he grabs a few paper package boxes of different sizes, carry-home bags made of paper which have a reprint of his paintings and a message in verse (in Telugu and English) that pleads for conservation of environment.

To dissuade public from the use of polythene bags, Vijayaram has gone to the extent of gifting hand-made cane baskets to temples in and around the local areas to carry ritualistic articles for puja. The basket has a placard that warns against the hazardous use of polythene.

"I still find the devotees taking this inside obediently but returning it and carrying home the prasadam in polythene bags," he despairs. Not to say that Vijayaram's paintings lack finesse and are just enviro-conscious attempts driven by a social purpose. Be it a picture of rural background or rain-drenched green foliage, of dense forests or portraits, it pulsates with life. The colours are muted, bright or bold in accordance with the message they convey.

He is planning to launch a one-man show for an entire year to drive home his point. "I plan to make 50 paintings on preservation of trees/forests, rain water and a pollution-free environment as a series. And they will be released by someone whose word can make a world of difference to the public," he says not wanting to disclose more. Let's wait and watch!

RANEE KUMAR

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