Nearly 30 per cent work on casting of the monumental bronze statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, billed as the world’s tallest sculptural work, has been completed, says noted artist Ram Sutar.
Sutar was commissioned to craft the artistic modellings for the majestic 522-ft-high ‘Statue of Unity’ that will be installed on Sadhu Bet near Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat.
The sculptor, who turns 92 on February 19, and known for his iconic statues of Mahatma Gandhi, one of which sits in the lawns of Parliament, is being assisted by his son Anil, 59, in this project.
“It was my dream to sculpt the tallest statue in the world and with ‘Statue of Unity’ I have come closer to realising that dream. The bronze statue would stand as a symbol of inspiration for generations and about 30 per cent of the casting work has been completed,” Ram Sutar said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid its foundation on October 31 on the birth anniversary of the ‘Iron Man’. The project is expected to be finished by 2019.
“The casting work is being done in a foundry in China. For the final statue, we made iterative scale models of 3 ft, 18 ft and 30 ft statues. The face itself would be 70-ft in height and we have made a scale model of 15 ft for final rendering,” Anil said.
The father-son duo, who hail from Maharashtra, work out of their studio in Noida, where an impressive statuary of iconic personalities greet visitors.
“We were also selected for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj grand memorial, planned to be built in Arabian Sea, off the coast of Mumbai. The last date to receive the tender for the contractor’s job is February 14.
“Once that is decided, we will begin working with them for this project. For this, 25 ft and 50 ft scale models would be used before designing the final statue,” the 59-year-old sculptor said.
Modi had laid the foundation for this Rs 3,600-crore grand memorial last December.
The proposed memorial’s main feature will be an imposing 192-m-tall statue of a triumphant Maratha king riding a horse. The statue will be surrounded by an art museum, amphitheatre, auditorium, exhibition gallery and other facilities.
Ram Sutar, a gold medallist from Sir J J School of Arts, built one of his first statues -- ‘The Bodybuilder’ in 1948. This art and other striking scale models of his past works are being celebrated at an ongoing exhibition -- Ram Sutar Retrospective -- at the All India Fine Arts & Crafts Society in Delhi.
Besides, various models of Gandhi, tall statues of Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, all in standing pose, a seated B R Ambedkar, and his other celebrated works have been showcased.
“During his career, spanning over six decades, he (Ram Sutar) has designed nearly 700 statues, out of which 350 include those of Gandhi, in various sizes and poses, like standing, sitting, thinking, walking, in busts,” Anil said.
Sutar shot to fame with the 45-ft-high Chambal monument at Gandhi Sagar dam in Madhya Pradesh, ‘Chambal Devi’ carved out of one monolithic stone.
A scale model of the head of one of the horses in the ‘Krishna Arjun’ monument at Kurukshetra in Haryana has also been displayed.
2-D plans of the Shivaji memorial, models of Sai Baba in his iconic sitting posture, first President Rajendra Prasad, a bust of smiling Gandhi, two dancing female figures are among the other exhibits at the fortnight-long retrospective which end on February 14.
“The smiling Gandhi bust is unique in many ways. The pillar carrying the bust has four iconic figures on its sides -- Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, Karl Marx and Rabindranath Tagore. It was built in 1948 by my father and is installed in a public space at our native town in Maharashtra,” Anil said.
“Ninety-five per cent of the works, models of which are on display, were converted to sculptures for installation. A few projects, my father had proposed did not see fruition, like the Gandhi statue for ‘Kranti Maidan’ near India Gate, towering statue of Gandhi in Arabian Sea,” he said.
But, Sutar’s matchless oeuvre, nonetheless, is overwhelming, which also includes, 16 statues in Parliament -- Gandhi in meditative pose, equestrian Shivaji Maharaj, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Nehru, Indira, among other sculptures.
“A statue of Jyotiba Phule, surrounded with accompanying sculptures on a grand pedestal, was planned to be installed in Mumbai, but then it couldn’t see its finality. The exhibition also displays it scale model,” Anil said.
“For the Commonwealth Games, we had also proposed a ‘Progress’ monument of 250 ft height near the banks of Yamuna River in the biodiversity park area, as a symbol of continuous progress of the country. The then Delhi government had liked it but it was eventually not implemented,” he added.
“My father had also worked on the design of various statues and fountains installed in Noida and Lucknow during the Mayawati government. We are also trying to establish a museum of his works, as a lasting memory,” he said.