Ambika Shaligram
Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Maharashtra Cultural Centre conferred Rangsetu Fellowships on four promising artists on Tuesday. Pramod Kale and Shubhangi Damle give us the details

Often we hear stories of promising artists giving up their art and passion to eke out a dreary living, or juggling their creative pursuits with a day job to keep the kitchen fire burning. Therefore, financial support to artists, who are trying to gain a foothold in their art realm, is nothing short of a godsend. 

Recognising this need and trying to plug the gap, city-based Maharashtra Cultural Centre (MCC) has announced Rangsetu Fellowship 2019 for deserving art students and practitioners. The fellowships were presented to four candidates — Mayuri Atre (music), Rohan Pawar (visual arts), Aditi Venkateshwaran (dance) and Pratik Jadhav (drama) — on Tuesday by Dr Praveen Bhole, Director, Lalit Kala Kendra (Gurukul), Savitribai Phule Pune University. The function was presided over by filmmaker Sumitra Bhave. 

Pramod Kale, vice-president and Shubhangi Damle, joint secretary of MCC and respected theatre personalities in their own right, give us details about the fellowship programme. 

“Prior to the Rangsetu Fellowship, the MCC was paying tuition fees/academic fees of deserving, needy students of Lalit Kala Kendra. But over the years, we realised that like us, there were many who were willing to pay a student’s college education fees. But students who have passed out or are struggling to establish in their chosen field of art, need financial support to tide over that phase. Once they complete their education, their parents naturally expect them to take up a job or start earning. The elders ensure that their children have a roof over their head and have food to eat. But beyond that, even they find it difficult to fund expenses of their children who have to watch a play, or attend a music concert, travel to watch exhibitions, which is necessary exposure for those who want to keep working in the field of arts. That’s where we decided to step in,” explains Damle. 

Noting that arts and artists need nourishing atmosphere, Damle says that their organisation won’t be able to help all aspiring and talented people, and certainly not for their entire lifespan. “But in this one year, when you have stepped out of college and are looking at ways and means to establish yourself, the financial support will come in handy,” she adds. 

The Rangsetu fellowship offers Rs 10,000 per month for one year to four artists in streams of visual arts, dance, music and drama. The MCC invited entries from candidates in 22-35 years of age, who have a body of work to speak for, and have some constructive ideas which they wish to work upon in this period. 

“We had formed a committee comprising Dr Chaitanya Kunte (music), Dr Nitin Hadap (visual arts), Ashwini Giri (drama/theatre) and Parimal Phadke (dance). The members scrutinised the entries. The long-listed candidates were then called for interviews and they also participated in a two-day workshop where their ideas were discussed in more detail,” informs Damle. 

The organisation is confident of running the fellowship programme for five years and it is also amenable to making changes. Says Kale, “Depending on the feedback we get from the recipients, we might tweak the programme, if necessary. Hopefully, by the year end, we would have learnt if there are any other aspects that we have to take into account. We might increase the number of recipients to two candidates from each stream. This year, we received 155 entries and we invited 20 candidates to join the workshop, in which we had informal interaction with them, so that they gain clarity and feasibility of the work they wanted to do. An interview is too short a time to understand someone’s personality. We wanted to observe them a bit.”  

When asked what did he spot in the four selected recipients, Kale replies, “We took into account their educational qualifications, and what they have accomplished so far. Mayuri Atre is being trained in classical music, but she wants to experiment in all genres. Aditi Venkateshwaran has studied Kathak and then she moved to contemporary form. She travels across the world, taking workshops. Pratik Jadhav is a pass-out from Lalit Kala Kendra. Usually, promising students move to Mumbai to gain experience and do more work. Pratik moved to his village near Ichalkaranji, because he wants to take theatre to his village. He has built a group of village youth to stage plays. So we thought it’s necessary to support him. Rohan Pawar has got Art India Society’s award for best sculptor, for the fourth time. Despite winning accolades, you do need cash support. He runs his studio from home but ensures that his family and neighbours’ routine isn’t disturbed — he comes from a humble background.” 

Kale adds that every three months, the fellows would have to submit a report on the work that they have done till that stage. “We would be in touch with them, keeping track of the work that they are doing, offering expertise and guidance, if necessary. We would also want them to take interest in other art forms and not just stick to their own discipline. We want them to have an integrated inter-disciplinary approach,” he emphasises.

Currently, a student of History from Fergusson College, Mayuri Atre began learning music when she was six. “I don’t belong to a music family. My mother and grandmother enjoy humming. I was six when my parents realised that I had knowledge of sur. I had to recite a poem in school, but I sang it in perfect tune. My teacher, Vrunda Shingnapurkar and my parents recognised it. Initially, I was taught by Shingnapurkar Madam,” says 22-year-old Atre. 

Presently, she is being trained in classical music by her guru, Madhuri Jadhav. The variety of work that she has done ensured her the fellowship. “I saw a post on Rangsetu shared by Chaitanya (Kunte) sir. I have completed 21 years of age recently and I wondered if I was eligible for the fellowship, because the age group was mentioned — 22-35 years. He said I could apply. When we submitted the forms, we had to outline the work that we had done. I have composed music for dramas, sung ghazals. I have also sung for a webseries etc. I explained this all during the interview,” says Atre.

The youngster also won award for singing in Firodiya Karandak, in which she was a part of the college team. “I had composed music for the play and also sung for it. We had a good team and everything fell in place,” she says. 

Atre, who is planning to pursue her Masters in Music, plans to hold mehfils with the fellowship money. “The money will help me in paying the artists, musicians and other expenses that such programmes warrant. I also might make some use of it for my post-graduate education,” she adds.   

A topper in all the four years of his art school, Rohan Pawar continued to win accolades professionally too. Pawar, who did his GD Arts in Culture and Modelling, from Sahyadri School of Art in Savarde, now works in Mumbai. 

“I don’t do stone sculptures because of several constraints. I work from home, I don’t have a studio, so I have to keep in mind that dust and other factors might affect the daily routine of others. I have worked in metal, wood and other mediums, but I have experimented more with metal. Whenever I work on a sculpture, I ensure that every design I compose works on the parameters of  speed, rhythm and balance,” says the 28-year-old sculptor. 

After passing out from the institute, he took up small assignments. “One of the works which I did — it was palm-sized sculpture — was selected for Art Society of India’s exhibition, which is held at Jehangir Art Gallery every year. That piece got sold. From that money, I experimented more. Gradually, I increased the size and scale of my work,” says Pawar. 

The metal sculptures that the artist had seen were heavier. But Pawar had something small and delicate in mind. He wasn’t sure if he could translate it into a piece of art. Says he, “Even in metal, there are many types of casting processes. I worked on various designs, then made patterns in different mediums like wood, thermocol, fibre to find out how they can be used in casting.”

Pawar, who has won ‘best sculpture’ award for four times in a row from Art Society of India, and also Maharashtra State Art award, wants to work on his ‘reflection’ series from the fellowship he has received.

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