A few years back, the state highway department as well as the corporation of Chennai took the initiative of beautifying the city with the paintings of colourful images of nature, animals, and more, with some of them even carrying social messages.
Recently, people are seen posing and taking selfies with the iconic stars of Kollywood — the murals of whom adorn the Saidapet Railway Station — which has caught the attention of many. The paintings of Aayirathil Oruvan MGR, Veerapandiya Kattabomman Sivaji Ganesan, Sakalakala Vallavan Kamal, Baasha Rajini, Aachi Manorama, comedian duo Goundamani-Senthil, and Thillana Mohanambal Padmini, among others, were the main attraction for the commuters who walked in and out of the station.
The brainchild of Sriram Ayer, founder Nalandaway Foundation, 50 children from various government schools, painted these murals — “As part of the Dan Utsav in October, where eight railway stations were beautified, we were entrusted with the job of decorating Saidapet Railway Station. Instead of doing the routine motifs, we thought of something unique. That’s when the idea of painting legendary stars of K’town struck. I honestly feel that for the entire cinema crazy Tamil Nadu, (and we blame it on cinema for everything), there’s hardly a single public place where cinema is not being celebrated.”
He adds, “I interacted with the children involved in the work who said that they wanted paintings with whom people would easily connect and would also love to pose for selfies.” But it was a deliberate attempt of the team to avoid those who are big in the recent years, he reveals.
Explaining how passers-by were supporting and encouraging them — “People were offering biscuits, tea and water to the children who were painting. The ardent fans of the respective stars were also excited seeing their matinee idols, giving active suggestions on how they have to be painted.”
Sriram said that unlike other stations, Saidapet had an entire building that could be utilised and added value to by the murals. “We have also painted inside the building so that commuters can also enjoy them as they travel,” he explains.