An agnostic's artistic tribute to an inspiring religious icon

An agnostic's artistic tribute to an inspiring religious icon

An agnostic's artistic tribute to an inspiring religious icon

A 25-feet tall metallic sculpture of Lord Hanuman, a 12-minute film depicting ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ and a mobile App on the same theme, could be mistaken as part of a religious show.

But they are the works of a young atheist-turned-agnostic artist, yet to develop empathy for any faith.

Delhi-based artist Charuvi P Agarwal who conceptualised these works, believes that “art is beyond any religion” and is merely an expression of ideas. By creating the film and sculpture, she seems to have transcended many boundaries.  

The first boundary she crossed was when being a female, she chose Lord Hanuman as her artistic muse. This, when girls are not encouraged to even touch his feet. Not only did she touch the chaste deity but virtually “lived with him” for three years during the film’s production. “I believe in Lord Hanuman as much as I believe in Santa Claus,” says the artist who is in her late 20s.

Taking Metrolife through her journey as an artist, she says, “During my days at Sheridan College in Toronto where I studied for Master of Computer Animation, I made a short film on ‘Tenth Avatar’ which was screened at many film festivals like One World Film Festival in Ottawa, Beijing International Animation Festival and South Asian International Film Festival in New York, following which a filmmaker approa­ched me to make a film on Hanuman Chalisa. As it turned out, he vanished after a few months leaving me wondering about what to do with the project. So, I thought I might as well finish it.”

The interesting thing about her sculpture is that it is made of metallic bells — 26,000 in total tied together with fishing net fibre to create a silhouette of Hanuman.

For her research — which was imperative as she was clueless about the nuances of Indian mythology — she went to Tulsi Ghat in Varanasi and read many texts on Hindu faith before embarking on the project. “It was a demanding task to design everything —from jewel­lery to characters to gran­diose settings of the historic era,” explains the bohemian artist. 

About her experience of making the film, which took three years and painstaking work of 20 artists, she tells Metrolife that it was good to know so much about the rich and interesting Indian mythology. “The most disconcerting thing is that we ‘ve never made any interesting stuff on our myth­o­logy which deser­ves to be told to the people worldwide. We must treasure it and showcase it in the most creative way possible,” she says. Though an atheist, she enjoyed making this film as she was inspired by Lord Hanuman’s character--that of a warrior, a loyalist who devoted his entire life in the service of one ideal. 

The film and the sculpture would be the part of an art show to be hosted at IGNCA in February next year.