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Delhi’s only female portraitist

Sharpening the edge of her pencil, Saroj Shah is preparing to make a sketch of a schoolgirl at her stall in Dilli Haat. The smiling customer sitting in a chair is a kid from Singapore.

entertainment Updated: Mar 31, 2010 01:12 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi

Sharpening the edge of her pencil, Saroj Shah is preparing to make a sketch of a schoolgirl at her stall in Dilli Haat. The smiling customer sitting in a chair is a kid from Singapore. And on the chair opposite her is Shah, the only female artist in Delhi who makes tourists’ sketches. For the last two weeks, Shah was in Dilli Haat, where more than a dozen portrait artists work in rotation.

Starting with henna
Shah’s tryst with art happened at a very young age, when she used to draw casually during school hours. Later, she became a mehendi artist at Dilli Haat, and came in touch with an artist Yusuf Khan.

“She wanted to be an artist and I could gauge her artistic quality by looking at her mehendi work. Both mehendi and art require an ability to draw meticulously,” says Khan.

Today, Shah has become a sought-after artist, specially for female tourists. “There have been instances where a husband objects to his wife posing for a male artist while he happily lets her sit in front of me,” she says.

Big dreams
This perfection hasn’t come in a few days — Shah has been practicing the art for three years. For one portrait, which takes eight to 10 minutes to sketch, she charges Rs 300. She makes more than Rs 3,000 per day at Dilli Haat. At India Gate, she gets Rs 100 for a portrait.

“I want to make it big, but I don’t know how to hold an exhibition,” says Shah. “How can I be one of those artists?” Hopefully, she’ll achieve her dream of making it big.