Bollywood’s flair for art
One can’t really judge art. Thank God for that. It gives us that much more reason to mask our confusion when confronted with the artistic exploits of those unconnected with the paintbrush except by a whim. Or a role in a film. Like in the case of actor Emraan Hashmi, whose flair for art, a raaz until now, came out on canvas as he got into character for Raaz 2, where he plays an artist. Emraan is in good company. Salman Khan was moved by Ghajini into making a sketch of Aamir Khan, which he then gifted to the actor. Had it landed in the art mart, Sallu might have surpassed himself by selling it at more than Rs 1 crore, which is the price a previous painting of his inexplicably fetched. Other actors ‘canvas’sing for their creative sides are Urmila Matondkar, Twinkle Khanna and Katrina Kaif.
If only non-celeb artists had a brush with fame as effortlessly. Says Supratim Bose, an illustrator who still dreams of pursuing art fulltime, “If I want to hold an exhibition, the first hurdle is getting a hall. Private galleries sponsor artists, but we have to reach a certain level for that. Other galleries give out forms, and a handful of artists are selected by a lottery system from the thousands of entries. If it’s a group exhibition, there’s another battle over the walls which enjoy greater visibility. Then comes the finance part, which includes the cost of framing the art works and getting invitation cards printed. I recently held an exhibition along with six others, and it cost us Rs 1 lakh, excluding the production cost. But even if we manage the logistics, the nagging fear is, ‘What if none of my paintings get sold?’”
That, however, isn’t a question bothering celeb painters. At TMC leader Mamata Banerjee’s second art exhibition held last year, 14 of her 45 paintings were sold on the first day, for Rs 1 lakh each. Actor Sushmita Sen doesn’t usually put a price on her art, but on the lone occasion that she did, it fetched Rs 20 lakh. What helps celeb artists is the curiosity factor, which turns a purchase of this kind into an
investment. It’s art for mart’s sake, and apart from business houses, fans and supporters of these artists snap up the paintings from under the hammer.
Says Tapas Das, a promising artist, “The magic lies in the name. A Tollywood heroine once held an
exhibition of paintings, which looked like they’d been done by a 10-year-old. All you have to do, if you are a celeb artist, is book a hall in a five-star hotel and host a cocktail party. Sales will follow.”
As young artist Pradip Das explains, “Unlike in music, where the public can tell a good singer from a bad one, the parameters are not clearly etched out in art.” No wonder the unlikeliest of brush-wielders come out with flying colours. But Das doesn’t seem to mind — “It isn’t always fair, but at least it takes art to more people”. A masterstroke, that!