Shrikant Deodhar is instrumental in creating a niche for Indian Sculpture making, especially Ganesha idol across the world. It would not be completely wrong to say that he is seen as the upcoming global face of sculptor and exclusively Ganesha idol maker. In conversation with Sridatta Gupta, this JJ School of Arts Alumni speaks about his current role as the President of Lord Ganesha Statue Maker and Businessmen Association, his family legacy and International workshops, creating a cult for Pen Cha Ganpati.
Craftsmanship does not demand any qualification, but skills.
Where did you learn ganpati idol making?
It started in a small scale at the house courtyard of Deodar. My family originally belongs to Konkan, my great grandfather Bhiku Tikli migrated to Pen for livelihood. While the culture of idol making dates back to over 100 years it was not taken as a profession. The real business of ganpati making started from the 3rd generation. After 1950 a factory was set where ganpati was manufactured in mass.
Since what age you started making idols?
I am the first member in my family of artisans who have graduated from JJ School of Arts. Though the talent was inherent within me as a family legacy but I started working on them from the age of 25.
How has the business of ganpati making evolved over the years?
When we started making ganpati, employment was easier. We didn’t face any competition. After 1980, things started changing. Artisans who learnt this art in our unit started putting up their own units. Now we have families of good artisans with us who are our co-associates. We share extremely amicable relationship and reside as a one big family.
What is your source of inspiration which keeps you moving?
Well, the source of inspiration is the big business which we have been able to develop over the years. We have also been able to generate employment. Craftsmanship does not demand any qualification, but skills. We have been successfully able to create a base for people who have not been able to acquire formal education but have skills to create something. Moreover, the demand of such idols is just once a year. Hence, we get a lot of time to plan properly.
What measures are you employing to propagate the concept of eco-friendly ganpati?
We have received requests from the Police to control the use of POP and oil colours and we have reduced the percentage of usage.
What is the demand of the POP Ganpatis compared to clay idols?
We get very few orders of clay idols, since the materials used for the creation of POP idols are easily available and cheaper.
Which is your tallest creation till date?
We generally create house hold ganpatis and my tallest ganpati has been 12ft. Since last 10 years I have been receiving invites from all over Europe to conduct workshops in various venues.
What are your plans this year?
I have slowly wrapped my work in the ganpati making sector. I am currently concentrating my work in the Fine Art field. I am at present undertaking all kinds of sculpting projects and trying to make my way into contemporary art. Since last 10 years I have been receiving invites from all over Europe to conduct workshops in various venues. I am planning to accept one of these invites and travel next year.
What is your core function area being the President of Lord Ganesha Statue Maker and Business Association?
This organization mainly works like a NGO. I work as the connecting point between them and the Government who often fund them or announce new projects. I don’t have any personal profit in this but it feels good to help these talented people and make a difference in their life and bring them under limelight.
Have you ever used Pidilite products?
Yes I have. We use DDL Premium Distemper to create the idols and Fevicryl Hobby Ideas Range of products to paint them.