Astronaut video forces action, Baadal over the moon

The artiste who shot the video on an iPhone is elated by the attention it received

Come showers and the city’s roads split wide open into huge craters and potholes. This provided material for artist Baadal Nanjundaswamy’s latest artwork in Hero Halli, near Magadi Road. The video was posted on social media on Monday, and caught the attention of citizens and authorities.

The video, which showcases a person dressed as an astronaut walking on what briefly appears to be an extra-terrestrial surface, was inspired by how the city’s potholes remind one of the moon’s craters.

This also comes soon after the Chandrayaan 2 launch in the background.

Baadal Nanjundaswamy

The artist, who has been doing artwork on potholes, manholes and bad roads for five years, says, “I thought about this idea a couple of weeks ago. Actor Poornachandra Mysore is the astronaut in the video and it was shot by me on a friend’s iPhone. I climbed on the compound wall for the top shots.”

The entire video, including renting the astronaut costume and travel, cost Rs 8,000. He says, “I just wanted to take a photograph like my earlier works. But when we reached the spot, we found more potential there. Apart from the costume, nothing else was planned. Even the way the light from the auto fell on the astronaut was just a coincidence. I feel when one does good things, all forces come together to help out.” 

The artiste, his friend Rahul and the actor spent around one hour on the road last Saturday. “The video was around 1 minute 37 seconds long, but I edited it to a minute. I didn’t expect it to click so well,” he says. 

The latest reward was that the BBMP authorities noticed the video and have started repairs in the area.

Recent clicks

Baadal’s recent work in May on the Kaggadasapura Main Road was a hit. 

“I painted a man holding a wreath on a manhole. The next day, the picture was in the media and the BBMP fixed it,” he says. 

Why paint on them?

Potholes have bothered Baadal deeply. “I had a fall around five years ago, which is when I knew that I had to use my skill to highlight the issue.”

“My work was always through photos and the recent one, the video, has made a different impact,” he says.

Baadal has 50 artworks to his credit, which are road infrastructure-related and touch upon potholes, manholes, and broken dividers. 

‘The Mermaid’, which featured actress Sonu Gowda in a mermaid costume sitting in a pothole on Kamaraj Road in 2017, caught much attention.

His other noted creations are ‘The Princess and the Frog’ at Nayandahalli Junction and ‘Crocodile in a pothole’ near Sultanpalya Main Road.

BBMP reacts fast to video

The astronaut video, which received more than 23,000 likes and 16 lakh views on Facebook and 61,000 views on Instagram, was noticed by the BBMP. Baadal posted a video on Tuesday, showing the BBMP in action, reworking on the road. He said, “I am glad the road was noticed and has been reworked on. I am also thankful to my supporters.”

‘People from other cities ask me to come there’

The artiste says, “There are many who send me pictures and request me to come to places. There are even people from other cities like Chennai and Mumbai, asking me to come and paint there. This is not a craft, it is an art. I can’t work on things when people ask me to. I need to feel a connection to the site to do anything on it. It has to haunt me enough.”

How much is invested?

Baadal spends from 20 minutes to an hour on his works. He says, “The costliest one was the recent one, on which I spent Rs 8,000. I spent a lot lower on my other works. There is no point in spending a lot of money; I could get the roads repaired with the money.”

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