On Monday, Hyderabad’s art and culture scene got yet another boost with the inauguration of the Moolagundam Art Gallery by none other than well known sculptor Ram V. Sutar, the man who designed the Statue of Unity in Gujarat, created in honour of India’s first Deputy PM Sardar Vallabhai Patel. Speaking from the sidelines of the inauguration, the 94-year-old Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri winner shares how he got instant recognition for the Statue of Unity even though he has been in this field for the last several decades.
Elaborating about his experience of conceptualising the statue and the challenges he faced, the recipient of the prestigious Tagore Award in 2016 by the Union Ministry of Culture says, “It was quite a lot of hard work as I had to not only look at it as a piece of art, but also its other aspects as it was huge. It took me about four years to get it done and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. As I know my work, it was easy and enjoyable for me to finish this project, but for people who don’t know their craft well, it would have been a difficult job.”
Taking pride in his many achievements, Sutar says he feels like a mother who is happy when her child gets appreciated. “I feel very happy with all the admiration and recognition for the statue,” he says.
Reminiscing about his initial days in his village Gondur in Dhule district of Maharashtra, the artist says, “I’m from a carpenter family and art and sculpting came naturally to me. A carpenter needs to know the basics of art and carving as it is nothing but sculpture done with wood. I learnt it from my father and have been doing it since I was a child, after which I went to college to get a professional degree.”
Even though the Statue of Unity has made him a well known name, Sutar has created many gigantic works of art in the past as well, the first of which was the 45-foot Chambal monument at the Gandhi Sagar Dam in Madhya Pradesh. This gigantic masterpiece, carved out of a single block depicts mother Chambal with her two children — Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, symbolising the brotherhood of the two states.
Mahatma Gandhi has always been his most frequent muse, like the critically acclaimed 16-foot statue of the Father of the Nation in meditation pose. Sutar has also designed 18-foot statues of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Shivaji Maharaj, Jai Prakash Narain and Bhagat Singh among several others.