Artist Prithviraj Choudhury unveiled his maiden series of original paintings on the Mahabharata at an exclusive preview held at Novotel Kolkata Hotels and Residences on January 29. A select audience of 12 eminent persons was present at Mahabharata, a preview of original paintings on the classic Indian epic by Prithviraj Choudhury, in association with The Telegraph, to formally unveil the 12 paintings, each portraying a well-known story or episode from the epic.
The first of a series of works on the Mahabharata, this series, besides portraying mythology on canvas, also made one relate to the timeless epic. From Draupadi’s Swayamvara to the battlefield of Kurukshetra, the artist has captured every noteworthy sequence of the grand narrative with his brushstrokes. Sutradhar Ballari Chatterjee narrated each story depicted by the paintings as the 12 personalities came up on stage to unveil the paintings in chronological order. Interdisciplinary artiste Sujoy Prosad Chatterjee delivered a thoughtprovoking play-reading of the most disgraceful chapter of the Mahabharata.
Before travelling to San Jose and San Francisco in the USA and then returning to India for shows in Delhi and Mumbai, the week-long exhibition of paintings by Prithviraj Choudhury ends in the city today. Snapshots from the preview
Actress Richa Sharma, (right)Rupa Chakravarti
Actress Richa Sharma unveiled When God Is My Charioteer, which portrayed Krishna as Arjun’s charioteer in the war of Kurukshetra. “This painting denoted the true friendship between human beings and God. I truly believe that you are your own charioteer,” she said.
The Iconic Soulmates was unveiled by Rupa Chakravarti, global educator, author, artist and Tedx speaker. This painting depicted Draupadi and Lord Krishna’s embodiment of the notion that a man and a woman can have a deep, platonic friendship. “I feel that soulmates have been the signature of liberation and that there should be no gender bias. We are all equal amongst equals and there is always another cosmic power that is sheltering us, just how Draupadi was protected,” she said.
Imran Zaki, (right) Satnam Singh Ahluwalia
Social entrepreneur Imran Zaki unveiled The Momentous Battle, which depicted the great battle of Kurukshetra that lasted 18 days and stands as the quintessential embodiment of all rivalries. “Prithvi has done justice to the entire episode of Mahabharata,” Zaki commented.
Satnam Singh Ahluwalia, founder and chairman of IHA Foundation, unveiled Breaking Free From Vows. It depicted how Krishna broke his promise to Arjuna of not picking up weapons during the war. “A vow can be broken for the greater cause of humanity. Serving humanity is akin to serving the Almighty and should be the way of our life even if we have to sacrifice or move away from our desired goals,” he said.
General manager of Novotel Kolkata, Arjun Kaggallu, (right)Ballari Chatterjee
General manager of Novotel Kolkata, Arjun Kaggallu unveiled the first painting, The Test To Win The Best, on Draupadi’s Swayamvar. “The painting I unveiled was a pleasant surprise and a sheer coincidence. My name is Arjun and I unveiled the painting depicting the physical and mental strength of the warrior prince Arjuna,” he said.
Ballari Chatterjee explained the meaning and significance of each painting in the context of the epic as it was unveiled before the guests.
Lorraine Young,(right) Priti Patel
Lorraine Young, Red Elan’s managing director, unveiled The Power Of The Third Eye, showing Sanjay narrating the battles of Kurukshetra to King Dhritarashta. “The story being depicted is tragic and sad but it is full of vibrant colours and has a strong emotional message to convey,” she said.
Danseuse Priti Patel unveiled The Birth Of Gita. This painting depicted the conversation between Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and the Pandava prince Arjuna that takes place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra just before the start of the great war. “It was a pleasure and honour for me to unveil the painting where Lord Krishna shows his universal self, while giving the Gita’s sermon to Arjuna,” the dance guru said.
Sudarshan Chakravorty, (right) Dr Soutik Panda
Founder-director of Sapphire Creations Dance Company, Sudarshan Chakravorty unveiled The Unethical Chapter, which depicts the death of Arjun’s son Abhimanyu after being trapped in the Chkaravyuh. “The idea of Chkaravyuh, which is the oldest reference point of choreography, grabbed my attention. There was some form of choreography used during wars, like placement of soldiers,” said Sudarshan.
A senior consultant at Woodlands Hospital, Dr Soutik Panda unveiled the painting The Bed Of Thorns which shows the power of Bhisma’s devotion and spiritual attainment, as he lies waiting to die on a bed of arrows. “Prithviraj has done a commendable job as Mahabharata is a difficult topic. Those vibrant colours like the blues and the yellows made the paintings more fascinating,” said the doctor.
Nicolas Facino, executive director of Alliance Francaise du Bengale, unveiled the last painting of the series, The Tragedy Of Fate. This painting shows Karna’s death in the most unfortunate circumstances. “I love how every segment of the Mahabharata connects with our life. I also spoke about the war in Ukraine and the fate of the war scene, and it’s true how circumstances can be so unfair sometimes,” Nicolas Facino said.
Artist, curator and communicator Sujoy Prosad Chatterjee unveiled The Ignominy & Disgrace, which depicts the Vastraharan episode of the disrobing of Draupadi in the Kaurava court. “What happened in the Mahabharata happens every day in this country. I hope people appreciate art and take home a piece of this epic to their homes,” said Chatterjee.