Age is just a number and it is never too late to make a start. In a rare feat, the wife of veteran music director Salil Chowdhury is making her professional debut as an artist at the ripe age of 92. Jyoti’s first solo exhibition will display a never-seen-before pastel work of the composer working on an easel — a hobby she had inspired him to pick up in between his busy career in the world of music and movies. If all goes well, the exhibition will also come down from Mumbai to Kolkata — the city where Jyoti had enrolled into the Government College of Art and Craft around the time she got married to the composer in 1953.
As a child, Jyoti had developed her passion for painting by seeing her maternal grandfather. “I had often seen him paint images of gods,” recalled Jyoti. She first saw the music director in her childhood when he was acting in a play. “He was friends with my cousins who lived in Sonarpur. Later, he came into my life as my tutor. After marriage, he used to invite artistes to home and buy me books of art and materials. That was inspiring,” she added.
It was the music director, who had also got her enrolled to the art college. “I was directly enrolled into the second year,” she said with pride. Though college days were enjoyable, Jyoti couldn’t complete the course. “I followed my husband who moved to Mumbai from Kolkata during the time of the making of ‘Do Bigha Zameen’. However, I continued painting all these years,” said the nonagenarian, trying to recall the names of her professors.
Most of her works are in pastel. She has done considerable number of pen and ink sketches too. Sketches from her college days have survived too as much as her nature studies and profiles of people belonging to the working class. Speaking about these works, daughter Aloka Nanjappa, said, “My mother’s sketches are very bold. Her professors used to say that she draws like a man. She is proud of the fact that she hardly used any eraser.”
Even a couple of months back, she had done a sketch of her attendant. “We wanted her to be mentally active and suggested that she draw her. We gave her a sketchpad and a pen. Her hand was trembling but she still did it,” Aloka added.
Her works also inspired her husband to take up painting as a hobby. This was during the days he was composing songs like “o sajana barkha bahar aayi” and “ja re ja re ud ja re panchhi” with Lata Mangeshkar. In the 1960s, she did a pastel work of her husband when he was busy doing an oil on canvas. But none of these oils on canvas done by the legendary music director have survived.
On being asked why she never exhibited her works before, Jyoti attributed it to the lack of “opportunity”. But she is happy that the works are finally seeing the light of day. After the weekend show in Mumbai, she is waiting for an opportunity to display all of them in Kolkata.
Source: Times of India