New Delhi, Oct 8 (IANS) P. Chidambaram, India's no-nonsense finance minister, with an apron thrown over his usual spotless white shirt and veshti adding deft strokes to a canvas along with noted artist Anjolie Ela Menon. This unusual sight as well as of Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan sharing a canvas with artist Sakti Burman could be seen at the 'India on Canvas' art auction on Nov 10 at the Taj Palace Hotel here.
These headline-grabbing personalities will be among 100 celebrities and 100 artists for the show stopper being held in aid of Khushi, a charity working for the poor.
'Over the years I have felt that artists have to bear the load of creating works of art for charity,' art historian Aman Nath told IANS. 'I was astonished to know that Sanjay Bhattacharya doles out Rs.9 million of work to charities in a year. So, when I was approached by Khushi to do this big drive for a charity, I thought let me reduce that load and let us have a show in which artists and celebrities come together and share a space. Is the space sacred? If artists can create works of cow dung, of extremities of human excreta etc, etc, then I think space can be shared.'
Apart from Chidambaram, Bachchan and artists Menon and Burman, there will be business tycoon Ratan Tata and Laxman Shreshta, actor Sharmila Tagore and Paresh Maity, Jaya Bachhan and Meiti Burman - the list is endless.
How were the artists chosen?
'On the basis of which celebrity wanted which artist,' said Aman.
'When I was told that Ratan Tata wanted to paint with me I said 'Yes' instantly,' said Laxman Shreshta. Ratan Tata has been collecting Laxman's work ever since the 1980s, the relationship goes back many years. 'His eye is trained, it is distinctive because he is a trained architect before he came to take over the Tata bastion,' he said.
The canvas Chidambaram and Anjolie Ela Menon will work on is one that will echo the little minstrels at Kerala's Guruvayoor temple.
'A few months ago both of us were together at a wedding,' Anjolie told IANS. 'And we were both somewhat taken up with these little boys who stood and chanted the mantras with so much ease and innocence,' she said.
'Is this where you paint?' Chidambaram is reported to have asked Anjolie, quite shocked at her studio in Nizamuddin basti (shanty) in south Delhi. 'This is where I have painted for years, it gives me the grist of everyday life, there are the women, the fakirs, the namaaz, the goats and the little children who love to fly their kites. This is the subject of my ferment,' she answered.
'I was quite impressed with the way he handled the colour,' Anjolie reminisced. 'He painted the garlands and the slight areas of colour, he needs to come again because my work consists of many layers,' she said.
Once work on the painting was left to dry the finance minister took a walk with Anjolie to see the little children in a slum nursery school. Of course he went incognito, no one knew who he was, but he was quite happy to walk down the dirty little lanes with flies and garbage everywhere. After that he went back to Anjolie's studio to chat.
'The only thing disappointing was the paparazzi,' said Anjolie. 'I would have liked to work with my own privacy and freedom which the paparazzi spoil, but I guess you can't have it all,' she conceded.
Some artists like Ram Kumar, Ramachandran, Rameshwar Broota,<