The first thing that strikes you about Nirman Olwe is how down to earth he is, apart from how young. At just 14 years of age, he has numerous exhibitions and awards to his name and has caricatured former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and former president APJ Abdul Kalam.
Ask him about his meeting with Vajpayee and he shrugs: "He was very nice. He praised my talent and asked me to use it appropriately."
Born into a family centered on culture and art, Olwe made his first drawing before he said his first words. It was with a chalk on the floor when he was just 20 months old. "If it weren’t for the encouragement I received from my family, my art would have died out," said the class 10 student of SIES School, Matunga.
His exhibition at Jasubhai Art gallery in Shanmukhananda hall will show till May 20. The theme is ‘Flower Power’. "I wanted to capture the different shades and varieties of flowers. I wanted to educated people and also show them that if you have talent, you should take it further," he said.
From caricatures to flowers, Olwe is constantly trying new things. He works with paint, pastels as well as colour pencils and uses coloured paper, plain paper and even coloured boards as background. "I started drawing caricatures in the class 6. Before that I used to draw scenery, but my grandfather said I should start something new, so I started drawing cartoons. RK Laxman is my inspiration," the teenager said.
Mahalaxmi, a teacher who used to teach Olwe said, "In a few strokes, he can convey many things."
He has no formal education in art but his grandmother Swapna Chowdary happens to be his unofficial mentor and encourages him when any of his drawings don’t seem to work out. "We discuss colours, shading and watch television together so that he gets to see places," said Chowdary.
In school, Owle is help is sought out for art projects and exhibitions. But never at the cost of his studies. "Nirman is the highest prize winner in his school," said Anamica, the mother.
And despite all the popularity, this teenager draws for fun and claims that he has no intentions of taking it up as a career. "It will remain a hobby," he said, "It’s not adventurous enough. I really want to become an astronaut because everyone with money can see the earth but not everyone can see space."