Dhoolpet’s long winding roads that can put Google maps to shame, are bustling with activity again! With Ganesh Chaturthi right around the corner, the city cannot wait to start celebrating.
However, Dhoolpet’s narrow lanes have been abuzz for quite a while, with the sound of chisel-hammers and the smell of PoP. Every small lane of the area opens up to a tarpaulin clad pandal, with a row of idols waiting to be painted, clothed, packed and sent off on their way.
Sunder Kalakar, one of Dhoolpet’s most well-known idol makers, sits proudly amidst a variety of 21-feet-tall idols. As customers trickle in, he tries to explain what the idea behind every idol is, pointing at one that has apparently been sculpted to look like actress Katrina Kaif!
“Ganesh Chaturthi is a very famous festival in primarily two parts of the country, Telangana and Maharashtra. But the idols that are made in Maharashtra are very different from the ones we make here. Maharashtrian karigars concentrate on the idol looking exactly like an elephant. If you see our idols, our Vinayakas look more human than like an elephant,” he explains, adding, “We get karigars from Maharashtra and Pune to work on the body and karigars from Bengal for modelling and painting purposes. But regardless of where they come from, we train them here to suit the local designs.”
Rajat Mukherjee, a karigar from West Bengal who primarily does modelling and fibre work, says, “We keep travelling across the country. We have been in Hyderabad for a little over two months. After Ganesh Chaturthi, we will head back home for Durga Puja and then the next destination is Bangalore.”
Interestingly, this particular team of workers has been associated with Hyderabad’s Ganesh Chaturthi scene for the last eight to nine years. Another karigar, Deb Kumar Pal, says, “The work differs from state to state. In Kolkata, subtle colours that flow in with the colour palette are used. Here we primarily work with loud, bright colours that stand out with contrasting tones. Similarly, in Bengal, the idols have more detailing and finer lines as compared to the paint-job we do here.”
With artisans from so many different states, does communication become difficult? “Initially, it is very difficult. But these karigars have been associated with us for years now. They learn a bit of Hindi, we learn a bit of Bengali. We pitch in from both sides and make it work,” says Babbu Singh, Sunder Kalakar’s youngest son....