Nilanjan Chowdhury is a producer with an international television network by profession, but it’s his obsession that makes him stand out.
He has been furiously and beautifully capturing Kolkata like it has never been captured.
His speciality is portraying the city — more specifically his para, Raj Shekhar Bose Sarani or Bakul Bagan Road — from above.
He has been doing this since the Covid-19 lockdown started in Kolkata in 2020.
An alumnus of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, Chowdhury captures people in their various moods from his room and roof with a view in South Kolkata, not far from Paddapukur.
He observes the people around him in his para — from the Sikh gentleman who is friends with a gentleman who has a shop downstairs, to another man who ferries drinking water across to homes, to the vegetable vendor, to the fruit seller.
I capture people going about their daily lives
“Many, many artists have sketched Kolkata,” Chowdhury says. “They have sketched the architecture, they have sketched various buildings of Kolkata. I capture people and I capture people going about their daily lives. My sketches are always seeing the people from above, from my window. It's my view to the outside world.”
He sketches people and develops visual stories around them through his drawings. His stories are travelling to New York City as part of the Brooklyn Sketchbook.
“A lot of people liked these sketches and some suggested I send them to a private sketchbook library in Brooklyn,” Chowdhury explains. “Many artists like me have filled their sketchbooks and sent it over for viewing.”
Rooftop aviary with Kolkata birds
However, Chowdhury has not just been sketching people from up above. His gaze has also turned to the skies.
He has drawn a fabulous “rooftop aviary” on the walls with only local birds of Kolkata.
“I started with one bird and then kept adding to it,” Chowdhury says. “All the birds I show here are found locally.”
Be it this “rooftop aviary” or these sketches, in a short period of time he has infused a new energy in the often-sketched Kolkata through his signature style.
“It’s kind of like a way of life now,” Chowdhury says about his passion for sketching. “It does define who I am, more than what I have done professionally.”