Ram Vanji Sutar: The sculptor behind Statue of Unity
Born on February 19, 1925 in Gondur, a village situated in the Dhulia district in the state of Maharashtra.
After being initially mentored by Shriram Krishna Joshi, he earned a Diploma in Sculpture in 1953, the budding artist topped the class and won the prestigious Mayo Gold Medal for modelling.
In 1954, Sutar joined the department of archaeology, South Western Circle in Aurangabad as a modeller for the restoration of sculptures at the world famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves. During that assignment, he successfully restored many of sculptures. He continued to work there till 1958. Later, he was appointed as a technical assistant (models) in the exhibition division of the Department of Audio-Visual Publicity, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
In 1959, Sutar took a big leap of faith by quitting his government job to pursue sculpting as a full-time professional career.
His first notable work was the 45-feet-tall Chambal monument at the Gandhi Sagar Dam in Madhya Pradesh. Carved out a single block of rock, the gigantic masterpiece depicts Mother Chambal with her two children - Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, symbolising the bond of the brotherhood between the two states.
So impressed was Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, with the work that he directed Sutar to make a similar 50-feet-tall bronze monument at the Bhakra Nangal Dam to commemorate workers who laid down lives in building one of India’s stupendous engineering marvels. The work modelled on the theme of Triumph of Labour was, however, left incomplete due to the paucity of funds.
Sutar’s most well-known sculpture is a bust of Mahatma Gandhi which is instantly recognisable worldwide and was installed in the Parliament House complex. The Indian government had copies of it made, which were presented to countries like France, Italy, Argentina, Barbados, Russia, England, Italy and Argentina where they were displayed during Mahatma Gandhi’s Centenary celebrations. The largest copy of the bust was made for the International Trade Fair of Asia in 1972 and is permanently on display at the Pragati Maidan in the national capital.
His other notable statues include a 10-feet bronze work of Govind Ballabh Pant overlooking Rafi Marg in New Delhi, of eminent freedom fighters and political leaders Anugrah Narain Sinha, Karpuri Thakur and Krishna Sinha in Patna, Bihar, a 21-feet figure of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Amritsar and the depiction of Ganga and Yamuna at the Rose Garden in Ludhiana, Punjab.
Sutar married Pramila in 1952 soon after he had completed primary education. The couple’s son Anil Sutar followed in his father’s footsteps and decided to make a career in sculpture.
Sutar, who is now approaching his 96th birthday, was conferred the Padma Shri in 1999 and in the Padma Bhushan in 2016. He has created a total of more than 50 monumental works.
Ram Sutar’s most notable work was the designing of the Statue of Unity dedicated to Sardar Valabhbhai Patel, India’s first home minister and deputy Prime Minister. The 182-metre-tall work is the world’s tallest statue, located on the Narmada River, facing the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat. Inaugurated on the 143rd anniversary of Sardar Patel’s birth by Prime Minister Modi, the project costs ₹. 2,989 crore.
Sutar also sculpted a huge, 17-feet tall idol of Mahatma Gandhi in a meditation pose that have been installed in Gandhinagar, Gujarat and at Parliament House in New Delhi. He made a 13-feet tall statue of Mahatma Gandhi accompanied by children from underprivileged sections of society that was installed in Bengaluru, and also the Gandhi Smriti in Delhi and the Delhi Public School in Noida.
Ram Sutar and his son Anil created and landscaped the Anandvan sculpture garden beside the Surajkund-Badkal Lake Road where huge white fibreglass replicas of the former’s creations are on display.
Sources: Wikipedia, thefamouspeople.com