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‘Netaji’s personality and character have to come alive’

🔴 Although his name had been doing the rounds ever since the announcement for the statue was made by PM Modi last week, it was on Monday that Adwaita Gadanayak, the current Director-General of National Gallery of Modern Art, received the formal communication from Ministry of Culture.

Written by Divya A | New Delhi |
Updated: January 25, 2022 12:09:43 pm
Adwaita Gadanayak

OVER THE next few months, sculptor Adwaita Gadanayak will be working on what he describes as a massive responsibility: bringing to life Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in a 28×6 foot statue carved out of a single-piece jet black granite stone.

This statue will be installed under the grand canopy at India Gate by August 15.

Although his name had been doing the rounds ever since the announcement for the statue was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, it was on Monday that Gadanayak, the current Director-General of National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), received the formal communication from Ministry of Culture.

It was under his supervision that a team from NGMA prepared the graphic model of the statue, on which a hologram is also based. The hologram was unveiled by the Prime Minister on Sunday evening at a ceremony to conclude the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Bose, and also mark the beginning of the Republic Day celebrations.

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A hologram statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose being unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on ‘Parakram Diwas’. (PTI)

The size of the hologram is same as the actual statue, and it will continue to be beamed from sunset to sunrise every day until the granite statue comes in.

Gadanayak describes getting the responsibility of the statue the “biggest achievement of his life”. “It is a massive responsibility; it is not merely about creating a murti (idol), it is akin to creating a monument. Netaji’s personality and character have to come alive,” says the 51-year-old.

He says the single-piece black granite stone will be sourced from down south – either Telangana or Karnataka. In 2018, he had designed and created the main cenotaph at National Police Memorial in Chanakyapuri, also in black granite sourced from Khammam in Telangana.

Gadanayak says he will first have to do a “rehearsal” before creating the statue. “I will practice on fibreglass first in my Delhi studio, see how it looks once placed inside the canopy – whether it makes eye contact with visitors, how it looks from a distance, how it fits inside the canopy. Once I am sure of all aspects, only then I can reproduce it on the actual granite stone.”

Once the rehearsal is done, Gadanayak says he will need a lot of solitude and focus, for which, he will mostly go to the location from where the stone will be sourced, and work at the site. “Once the basic carving is done, the statue can be transported to Delhi for final touches and detailing,” he says, adding that a team of 20-25 sculptors will assist him on the project.

The sandstone canopy where Netaji’s statue will be installed was built in 1936, and housed the statue of King George V until 1968. “Since the canopy is also a heritage monument, I will have to ensure the statue does not impact it in any way,” the sculptor says.
On why he chose black granite, Gadanayak says, “Since Bose was a very strong character, we thought of granite as a medium to sculpt his statue because it is an extremely hard stone. Besides, the energy of black colour is often associated with deities like Lord Jagannath and Lord Krishna. So, I thought black granite was a perfect choice for Netaji’s statue.”

“I will first need to spend a lot of time at the archives and know each and every detail about his personality.”

Known for creating larger-than-life sculptures in India and abroad, Gadanayak has mostly worked with black granite all through his career. “A bronze statue is easier to create but it does not have the depth and memory of stone,” he says.

Before taking charge as Director-General of NGMA in December 2016, Gadanayak headed the School of Sculpture at Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology. He occasionally took time off to create sculptures at his studio at Kaladham in Greater Noida. He also created the ‘Dandi March’ sculpture installed at Rajghat in New Delhi.

Winner of the Lalit Kala Akademi National Award for Sculpture in 1993, Gadanayak is also a former convener of Odisha BJP’s art and culture cell. In 2016, he created a five-part stone sculpture at Lodhi Garden as part of a public art project commissioned by Lalit Kala Akademi and NDMC.

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