What do you get when your favourite Indian Premier League (IPL) stars get a bit of traditional makeover? Fusing traditional arts of different states of India with their respective cricket players and IPL teams, a Bengaluru-based creative studio has come up with an interesting collection of folk-art posters. Thus we have Rohit Sharma in a Warli painting, Virat Kohli as a Togalu Gombeyaata puppet, MS Dhoni as a Bommalattam puppet, and Rashid Khan as a Cheriyal character.
With the Covid-19 pandemic impacting the livelihood of traditional artists, a creative studio called LastBench has decided to cash in on the IPL excitement and craze to keep the interest in traditional art forms alive. What started with a list of wacky ideas to “create surreal posters” of their favourite cricketers soon took a turn towards mythical characters and traditional art.
“As we began imagining cricketers as mythical characters, we came up with a sketch of Kohli as a Gombe Aata (puppet show) character. The idea started getting a better shape from there. We zeroed in one what we’d do – fuse traditional arts from different states of India and their respective cricket players and IPL teams. And thus was born, Folk Cricket,” the founder Sriram Sabhapathy told the indianexpress.com
Though the concept was driven from the IPL, the underlying theme was to generate interest in traditional handicraft sector, which was adversely affected due to the pandemic, and to highlight the plight of native artisans.
“Art was perhaps the last thing people wanted to spend their money and resources during the lockdown. With Folk Cricket, we are trying to do our bit to keep people interested in traditional art forms alive,” says Sabhapathy, who is already getting several requests from people to see their favourite cricketers in various traditional avatars.
While for most cricket fans the idea to see MS Dhoni as ‘Bommalattam puppet’ or Rohit Sharma as a ‘Warli figurine’ is quite unfathomable, for Raaj Rufaro, the key artist behind ‘Folk Cricket’, it was a way to bring together his love for traditional art forms and his passion for sketching.
“Raaj and I, collectively research and identify the art forms from different states that we can explore and then pick one of the most popular players from the respective IPL team. Raaj then goes on to design these art forms,” Sabhapathy told the indianexpress.com
After mythical paintings of Dhoni, Kohli, Andre Russell, Rashid Khan, the next in line is Shreyas Iyer of Delhi Capitals in a Mughal painting adaptation and K L Rahul in a Wood Inlay art form from Karnataka.
“When people on social media tell us that their favourite has been the ‘Warli painting of Rohit or Phad Painting of Sanju Samson or Cheriyal of Rashid Khan’, it is a great sign that people are recognising the art form there rather than just a cricketer. Hopefully, this will make them a little more keen on folk arts and nudge them to take a note of these art forms the next time,” he said.
Though ‘Folk Cricket’ as a campaign may fizzle out following the conclusion of the IPL season, Sabhapathy and his team are already brainstorming different ways to fuse traditional arts with other forms of content.
“We are exploring partners who can execute merchandising and help make this reach a larger audience. And in the process, we are also identifying artisan communities/non-profits with whom we can partner and help raise awareness/funds for,” Sabhapathy said.