The legacy of Thota Vaikuntam

Published Jul 5, 2015, 4:30 am IST
Updated Mar 28, 2019, 4:01 pm IST
(From left) Jagdish Mittal, Anju Poddar, Vaikuntam and Suryaprakash.
 (From left) Jagdish Mittal, Anju Poddar, Vaikuntam and Suryaprakash.
Hyderabad: Artists like Thota Vaikuntam, Laxma Goud, Fawad Tamkanat, A. Rajeswara Rao, Surya Prakash, Ravinder Reddy and many others got together at Anju Poddar’s home recently. The reason — an interaction, for artist and filmmaker Parthapratim Roy’s documentary on Vaikuntam.
Parthapratim and Vaikuntam go a long way back, when they met in 1997. “A friend of mine was here and he was going to meet Vaikuntam, so I decided to tag along. At that point, Vaikuntam was quite famous but what blew me away was his humble nature,” says Partha. 
The documentary that has been in the making since the past eight months, deals with the life and struggles of Vaikuntam. “You won’t believe the amount of love and appreciation Vaikuntam receives at his village. But what moved us is how his life panned out. From a tiny home in Karimnagar to being one of the most sought after artists, Vaikuntam’s life is fascinating,” says Partha.
He further adds, “I really like Vaikuntam’s style of art and the fact that he has come such a long way but he had not forgotten his roots. At a time when people were so interested in Western art, you had one man here who was going back to his roots, his home, his folk and depicting them and that was what caught my interest.”
As part of the documentary, Partha, along with his cinematographer Orjun, have travelled to all the areas that have created a difference in Vaikuntam’s life. “As of now, we have covered Hyderabad and Karimnagar, the place of his origin and the place where he resides now. Next we will be going to Baroda, the place where he studied art under the tutelage of K.G. Subramanyan,” he adds.
But what moved Partha was how Vaikuntam lived. “Vaikuntam’s father had a small grocery shop and their home was a tiny cottage. As a child, Vaikuntam grew up in poverty. There were many things that worked against him, but he stood the test of time,” he adds. Partha and Orjun visited Karimnagar a couple of times and they stayed there for a few weeks. “His old home doesn’t stand there anymore, sadly all that is left is just debris,” says Partha. When you talk to Vaikuntam, the man of the hour, he laughs and says, “I don’t know why he (Partha) finds me interesting. But he’s been a friend for a long time, and when he approached me with this idea I couldn’t refuse. It’s also a way of leaving behind my mark.”
The documentary will cover all phases of the artist’s life. While the release date of the documentary is not finalised, Partha and Orjun were in the city to talk to those who have known Vaikuntam.


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