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Art blooms in the autumn of life

- From sculpting goddesses to designing saris, former Tata Motors manager finds creative vocation after retirement

Life begins at 60.

No, this is not the tagline of a long-term investment plan, but the inspiring story of a sexagenarian in Jamshedpur.

Meet Manas Kumar Majumdar (66), who discovered the artist and designer in him after he retired in 2008 as divisional manager of Tata Motors.

This self-taught artist, who currently stays in Sonari, now spends his time giving shape to artefacts in terracotta, paper and plaster of Paris.

Conventional media aside, Majumdar also works with onion peels, wastepaper and wood shavings. “I can find beauty in everything,” he says. “For me, art is a passion. I’ve not received any formal training. It’s all in the mind and fingers. I have never thought about it commercially, either.”

As a child, Majumdar would observe craftsmen make idols at Sakchi. It whetted his interest to try his hand at making idols. “One day, when I was in Class III, I made a clay idol of goddess Kali. My mother scolded me as it was considered inauspicious to make a Kali idol without a reason. But, to hold on to my knack of sculpting, I used to make Saraswati idols on Basant Panchami,” he said.

After he retired in 2008, Majumdar had the time to take up his passion more seriously.

He first tried making a small terracotta idol of a girl. Next came a wall hanging of goddess Durga, where he stuck the figurine on a ply and covered it with glass. Since then, he has been on a roll. From woodpeckers to Kathakali masks, he has used clay, paper mould and plaster of Paris to bring his creations to life.

Majumdar said city-based artist Balaram Dutta helped him fine-tune his skills. With Dutta’s suggestions and some relevant study, Majumdar also come up plaster of Paris replica of the mask of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun.

The senior citizen added that he regularly used waste material — wood shavings for example — in his art. “Initially, it was a bit embarrassing to ask a carpenter for shavings. Now, it is like a habit,” he said.

Majumdar is equally talented in designing saris, using fabric colours to draw floral motifs on pure silks. This apart, the sexagenarian is into paper quilling and makes attractive floral pieces, perfect for use on hair bands.

The senior citizen teaches his skills to underprivileged children in Bodam and nearby areas. With support from Sonari Cultural Club, Majumdar has also decided to conduct origami and art class for slum children free of cost.

“He shuns limelight, but is always keen to teach children,” said Ayan Mukherjee, a club member and Majumdar’s neighbour.