Artist Orijit Sen is a man on a mission. In collaboration with Prshant Lahoti from Kalakriti Art Gallery, Orijit, along with his team, is soon going to immortalise every galli of Hyderabad, at least most of it, through a set of artworks that will be out by August. The artworks are a tribute to the city as she celebrates her 425th anniversary next year.
Orijit Sen is not new to the world of art. The 75-metrelong mural that the graphic artist and designer created at the Virasat-e-Khalsa Museum in Anandpur Sahib, immortalised the present and past of Punjab. And if all goes according to the plan, Orijit could eventually come up with a mural based on the yesterday and today of Hyderabad.
But for now the focus is on the eight artworks that the artist and his team are working on. “This is my third visit to the city. During our visits here, we stay for a week and do our recce. We have met Shalini Deen Dayal, Narendra Luther and even Anant Maringanti from Hyderabad Urban labs,” says Orijit about his ‘work in progress’.
The artwork here is simple. “We recreate narratives from the city. We build our artwork around important structures and then work our way by creating the roads and the various shops and homes that add to its essence,” says Orijit. Take the artwork based on the Old City. The team mapped out the area around Charminar and recreated the streets and not just the important structures like Charminar and Macca Masjid, but even small shop.
“We’re trying to interweave the past and the present. We want to show how the past has shaped the present,” he adds. As part of their research, the team even photographs the areas they visit. “So when we come back and sketch the places, these photos just help us add more details,” he says. The team creates individual artworks and then puts them together.
Among the eight artworks, one of them is a map of the area around the Golconda Fort. “Among the other artworks, we are focusing on small individual stories. For instance, we have a story about the current owner of Sheesh Mahal, the theatre in Ameerpet and an Irani cafe that has been there for decades now. Both the owners are good friends, their fathers started the theatre and the cafe and the sons carry on the legacy and friendship,” says Orijit.
Another artwork shows the Charminar in the centre with four roads leading to it, on each road a religious procession will be seen. “On one road, we’ll have people shopping for Ramzan, the other will have Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, one road will have a Muharram procession and another road a Bonalu celebration,” he explains.
For Prshant Lahoti who met Orijit at the Delhi Art Fair this year, he immediately knew that he had to rope in Orijit for a bigger project. “His mural in Punjab blew me away! Before that I had bought his artwork and I knew that we had to collaborate immediately,” says Prshant, adding, “I wanted Orijit to work on this project, because I knew he would be able to handle it. He’s worked on such fine details in the Punjab mural, that I knew he would be able to create magic here as well. Also, the fact that he isn’t from Hyderabad just means that he won’t take anything in the city for granted.”
But Orijit is not really a stranger to the city. “My dad was posted in Hyderabad and so I did my high school here. I studied at Hyderabad Public School, Ramanthapur. Hyderabad, is extra special to me, because it was here that I realised that I wanted to become an artist, so right now it feels like as if I have come back to the place, where it all started,” he says while laughing. But he does admit that he can’t recognise the place now. “Everything changes, we just hope we can immortalise a part of this lovely city,” he says.