In what could be a life-time gift for admirers and followers of famous artist Sardar Sobha Singh, his family members have proposed to bring a collection of rare letters and pre-partition works of the saintly artist in a book form.
The Sardar Sobha Singh Memorial Art Society, established by his admirers and family members at Andretta village near Palampur, the place where the artist gave colours to his themes for 38 years, has a collection of over 300 letters, the legendary artist wrote to and received from eminent personalities, admirers and friends.
These letters are in Punjabi, Hindi, English and Urdu.
This precious correspondence included letters he wrote to MS Randhawa who played a pivotal role in rehabilitation of creative people uprooted during the Partition of India, Prithvi Raj Kapoor, Mulk Raj Anand, Balraj Sahni, Shiv Kumar Batalvi, Amrita Pritam, Dr Karan Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Patiala Yadvinder Singh, king of princely state of Mandi Joginder Sen.
Besides, the family has 50 letters written to the artist by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) who admired the artist's work on Sikh Gurus and his letters to former presidents Dr Rajendera Prasad, Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, VV Giri, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy and Giani Zail Singh.
“We are trying to preserve the rare letters Sardar Sobha Singh exchanged with eminent personalities by publishing them in book form,” said Dr Hirday Paul Singh, grandson of famed artist.
The collection includes letters written in the decade of 50s when Sardar Sobha Singh had settled in Andretta to the decade of 80s. Around 50 selected letters will be published in the book.
“His early communication with MS Randhawa was about his rehabilitation after he came to Andretta from Lahore,” said Dr Singh while adding that one interesting letter written by Randhawa is not to the artist but then chief minister Virbhadra Singh, seeking proper security arrangement at his place in Andretta Village.
It was during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 and someone had threatened to burn the Andretta house of the legendry artist.
“The letters written to him by the pioneer of Indian theatre Prithivi Raj Kapoor are very emotional and exhibit the bonding between the two,” said Dr. Singh.
Sardar Sobha Singh suffered a cardiac attack in 1971 after which the then governor of Punjab MM Chaudhary recommended his government to settle the artist near Chandigarh, given the medical facility available there. Zail Singh who was the then
chief minister of Punjab even allotted 15 acres of land to the artist.
Sobha Singh, however, turned down the offer replying, “I love these mountains and these people. You can give me health in Chandigarh, but can't give these mountains.”
Dr Singh told that they have also found the works the legendary artist had done before the Partition and these will be included in the book.
“We are awaiting someone to come forward to sponsor the project, which will cost around Rs 1.20 lakh, so that this work could be accomplished,” said Dr. Singh.