By Kanika Katyal:
Mahatma Gandhi has been conferred with various titles such as the Leader of the People, the Champion of non-violence, and a pioneer of our freedom struggle, etc.. We fondly call him Bapu, the Father of the Nation.
Today, on his 145th birth anniversary, New Delhi-based artist, Ankur Chaudhary, has honoured him with one more title – India’s First Superhero.
In a series of five paintings titled “Gandhiverse” posted on Touch Talent, Gandhiji has been depicted in the style of various Avengers, including Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk.
Chaudhary explains his very interesting logic behind his series to International Business Times, India Edition.
“The basic idea behind Gandhiverse is that Gandhiji is the father of our nation and I wanted to do something unique for our superhero’s birthday.”
On an Interview with Ankur himself, I asked him about the thought process that went into his creation:
Q. This is a distinct manifestation of Gandhi, from what has been his traditional figure. Your paintings wonderfully link it to contemporary tastes. Was it a conscious attempt to bridge this gap?
Ankur Chaudhary: Yes, it was a little step to shorten that gap. For me, art is an outlet to the exuberant energy of youthfulness that dwells within.
Ankur does not hail from a “qualified” background in arts, but that does not deter him from being an Artist. He proudly claims to be self taught.
“As an owner of a creative mind” he adds, “it is my duty to provide something unique to the people who admire my ideas .”
Q.The kind of heroism that Gandhi was a champion of is in sharp contrast with what a brand like the Hulk represents. It is in fact, hard to picture them together. What understanding went into making them one?
Ankur Chaudhary: Actually, the idea behind this fusion was not to portray Gandhi ji as an angry giant, but to show that no matter how angry you get him, he’ll still be calmer than the spring — but more dangerous than an army. The character of the Hulk here is to depict his inner strength.
His work is, thus, nothing less than a tribute to that active heroic spirit of Gandhi.
You will notice that the ainak, dhoti, and laathi, which Ankur believes are “indispensableÂ to Gandhi ji”, are consistent in all his paintings. The finest thing about his painting is that Gandhi is not portrayed as a pseudo-modern-day-techi-superhero with laser glasses, but is kept true to our roots.
On being asked to name that one trait in Gandhi ji which made him a Superhero, Ankur immediately commends Mahatma Gandhi’s “firm determination and non-violence.” He adds,“Gandhi walked miles and miles on foot for years at a stretch, speaking to millions, organizing meetings and protests to fight the British to not only bring independence to India, but make India a self-sufficient world Super-power.”
His work possesses an acute understanding of what would “click” with the audience. Being well aware of the dynamics of fantasy involved in such enterprises, Ankur admits, “to teach something to kids, we have to be able to capture their imagination. So, a child who is a fan of Spider man or hulk will find it interesting (when such characters are illustrated).”
Being a creative person himself, he had begun to find those images in books or the Internet “somewhat less interesting”. So, he reveals that he always wanted to reinvent them through his work.
Q. Your paintings also seem to radiate a sense of nationalism or patriotic fervour. They seem to appeal to the youth: “Do not forget the contribution of our heroes. They are our own superheroes.” Is that the message you wished to convey?
Ankur Chaudhary:Â Yes, I do love my country and its traditions. The personalities like Gandhi ji and Bhagat Singh are our own heroes. The new generation, who lives in a plastic world nowadays, must know about the greatness of these non-fictitiousÂ heroes.
In a world where critiquing Gandhi is becoming the “in thing”,Â his work certainly comes across as a remarkable encomium in reminiscing, recognizing and applauding Gandhi’s endeavours – something which he believes the country must never forget.
When asked about the reception of his work, Ankur modestly replies, “I am happy and satisfied with my work. I don’t think much about others, but till now, the response has been great.”
Not only do the kids love it, but his work successfully plays upon our sensibilities of love and loyalty towards “Bapu”. It certainly serves as a wonderful token of gratitude to him and shows how Gandhi inspires many, even today. Let’s keep our differences with him aside, especially on his day. A salute to him and this piece of art, also, is hence, the right impulse.