Like most children his age,Venkatesh Kandunoori wanted to excel in sports. However,Venkatesh,now 27,failed to pursue sports because of financial restraints. Driven by his admiration for Sachin Tendulkar,he decided to get 100 signatures on a painting of Sachin in 2010. He plans to auction the painting to raise funds for training children from impoverished background in sports.
Since 2010,Venkatesh has been travelling across India with friend Gouse Pasha,25,to get the painting signed by politicians,cricketers and businesspersons. The duo hail from Warangal district in Andhra Pradesh. Their aim is to get the painting signed by 100 celebrities for the 100 centuries that Sachin has scored. So far,they have been successful in getting 90 signatures. Sharad Pawar,Prithviraj Chavan,Akhilesh Yadav,Sunil Gavaskar,Saina Nehwal,Ricky Pointing,A R Rahman,Amitabh Bachchan and Anna Hazare are among others who have signed the painting. Cricketers of the 2011 World Cup team and Twenty20 World Championship team have also signed the paintings. Sachin who the duo refer to as their God was,however,the first one to sign the painting.
Getting celebrities to sign the painting has not been an easy task. It has taken them more than two weeks to get one person to sign the painting. Gouse accompanies Venkatesh as the latter cannot communicate well in Hindi. Carrying the 4.5 x4 feet painting from one city to another has also been difficult.
The duo are currently in Mumbai,waiting for Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani to sign the painting. Their next stop is Delhi,where they hope to persuade Rahul Gandhi,L K Advani and Narendra Modi to sign the painting. Venkatesh,a student of fine arts,supports his travel expenses by selling his paintings. When you have a dream and the passion to pursue it,you cant let things like money or rejection bog you down, said Venkatesh.
In 2012,Venkatesh had met President Pranab Mukherjee in Hyderabad,where he had showed Mukherjee his mix-media painting of acrylic colours,oil colours,canvas,paper,pencil. It took him eight months to complete the painting.
The painting highlights Sachins achievements and Indian culture through its elements. Venkatesh wants to auction the painting. From the earnings at the auction,he wants to start an NGO,which will support children from impoverished background in Andhra Pradesh to pursue a sport of their choice. The NGO will employ trainers to coach children and fund their professional training. Even we,the village kids,were talented. However,we did not have the money to travel to cities for better training. I do not want other kids to struggle like we did. I want to make it easier for talented children,who cant make it big simply because they are poor, Venkatesh said. He added that he believes through this process,many Sachins will be discovered.
The 27-year-old has another dream while a copy of his painting will adorn the walls of Rashtrapati Bhavan some day,he will gift the other copy to his God Sachin.