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Their job CUT OUT

Prathibha Parameswaran in conversation with J.P.Krishna, the cut-outs man and much more

Photo: R.V. Murthy

TAKING CINEMA to people is no easy task. There are numerous ways of advertising a film. In good olden days, filmmakers used humongous cutouts of artistes and huge hoardings of movies to attract crowd to theatres. An art director's role thus becomes critically important. He is a man who, with talent and innovation, is capable of luring public into watching the movie.

One such magic figure is J.P. Krishna who for a decade now has been relentlessly guarding his position in the face of stiff competition from technological advancements. A phenomenon that has deprived artists of their status and jobs but not him.

"I try and create different things. Artists should be accommodative and always willing to learn. They should imbibe new ideas and learn different forms and styles to enhance and enrich their works. This will also ensure his increase their sustenance power in the industry," he says.

Films like `Uyire,' `Ulle Veliye,' 'Jeans', and majority of Parthiban's films have reached out to the masses through Mr. Krishna. He has done the art direction for almost 1000 movies till now. His big break came with the movie, `Koolikkaran' — a Vijaykanth starrer, when huge cut-outs of the star were splashed all over creating a flutter among all.

His masterpiece

However, he considers the banner he made for `Ulle Veliye', as his masterpiece. The 3-D kind of banner which had three sides to it but only one could be seen from a straight line of vision, won him much acclaim in the filmdom.

Krishna's works have impressed many far and wide. He was invited to France and Belgium, for his painting for the movie `Bharathi Kannamma.' He spent six months in Belgium when the Government there selected over 50 most famous personalities from different fields.

"They finally asked for a same size portrait of mine and displayed it along with the characters I had painted. It was a very moving occasion for me," he recalls.

"Earlier almost all movies used manmade hoardings and cut-outs to advertise. We art-directors were patronised by the industry in some way or the other. However, with the advent of technology, vinyl hoardings are ruling the roost, putting us at a disadvantage," Krishna rues.


With the film industry venturing in to other pastures, art directors have found a different avenue to explore, working for political parties, which had not entirely done away with conventional advertising strategies.

As also the President of Tamil Nadu Artists Association (TNAA), Krishna feels, the role of artist is sidelined there too. "Instead of blaming us for making cut-outs and banners grow stale over the years, it will be better if we are given a chance to do something innovative. Artists who do hoardings and banners are now jobless," he laments.

"In most foreign countries, they have done away with plastic hoardings, out of concern due to environmental consideration as well as the artists. But the craze is still on in our country," Krishna points out sadly.

One of the most remarkable traits of his character is perhaps his willingness to learn new things and put it to use in his work. "An artist should never shut himself out. He should learn and experiment with novel forms and styles," he stresses.

Memorable work

His own fame owes much to his novel and creative ideas. He ventured to explore the possibility of art in several other areas like politics. He does hoardings and banners for almost all political parties. The stage he set up for the third Language Struggle Proclamation Conference, here recently, was a classic example. Set against a black background, the palm manuscripts and a live palm tree with the flag at the end of the stage wore a very natural look.

The TNAA, with a membership of over 300000, organises regional meetings. Krishna gives tips on how to improve their work and shares his own experiences.

"Digital technology has changed our life. We always have to work out something new, to sustain ourselves," he never forgets to assert and repeat. With Rajinikanth's new release `Chandramukhi' scheduled April, his hands are full. "We have been asked to make more than 100 huge cut-outs which will be put up prominently in different places in Chennai. Maybe this is a new ray of hope. Perhaps the old trend is back," is Krishna's sincere hope.

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