Artist?s heartfelt tribute to Narmada
IT IS one thing to shower under piped water in the confines of one’s bathroom and quite another to take a dip in the eddies of the river; like watching a tiger behind the bars and facing it in its elements in a forest. A river is no less awesome in its all-enveloping magnificence.
None is better qualified than Amritlal Vegad to speak on the River Narmada. Anyone who undertakes to circumvent this river has not done enough homework if s/he has not heard of Vegad – cultural spokesman for the River Narmada.
He walked along the entire length of both its banks from Amarkantak to Bharuch and back in eleven years. Narmada was never the same after he set his brush and pen to put his memoirs on paper.
An artist and a writer worth his salt he won Madhya Pradesh State Shikhar Samman and Sahitya Academy award for his works. In no uncertain words from the cultural stalwarts, his books on the subject are a monumental tribute to Narmada.
Powerful as the currents of tumultuous Narmada, Vegad’s style of expression is as free flowing and inspiring as his heroine whom he proclaims as undisputed queen if there were a beauty contest among rivers.
The exhibition of photographs organized at Devlalikar Veethika amply substantiates this claim. Lensman Kanti Solanki, who accompanied Vegad on his excursions in patches, has captured some vivid landscapes and lifestyles on film. About 40 prints provide a glimpse of its unpolluted habitat and disarmingly simple yet rich culture Narmada has propagated in its basin.
Vegad’s commentary lends a different perspective to two-dimensional photographs. They make the most committed couch potatoes restless and yearn for the outdoors. Vegad has a unique style of depicting Narmada and its surroundings through paper collages made exclusively from trimmings of National Geographic magazine. Eight of them hang at the show.
Prof Saroj Kumar inaugurated the exhibition in the presence of an august gathering of artists, writers and nature lovers on Friday evening. Clearly overwhelmed by the unusual enthusiasm of this explorer in his late seventies, who has embarked upon the journey for a second time, Saroj Kumar, in his characteristic style, posted that Vegad’s circumvention would not be complete without a visit to Indore, because one of Narmada’s branch comes to this town, albeit through concrete pipes.
By the same token, significance of the lifeline extended by Narmada would not dawn upon Indoreans unless they do not lend ear to the paeans of its divinity. The opportunity presents itself when Amritlal Vegad reminisces about his travels in Pt Ram Narayan Shastri memorial lecture at Jall Auditorium on Sunday evening. The exhibition would last till Sunday.