Ganpati workshops in Mumbai: Where youngsters try to carve a niche
Armed with a Masters in Fine Arts from Government Chitrakala, Nagpur, and not much else, Jitendra Makode, in his early twenties, came to Mumbai to fulfil his dream — to design and create Ganpati idols.
“The day I arrived in the city, I came to Lalbaug and began going from one workshop to another in search of a job.”
After an exhaustive search, Makode landed up at the doorstep of Ramesh Rawale, who has two workshops in Lalbaug.
“All he said to me was give me a job, it is my dream to do this and you can pay me whatever you want,” Rawale said. Touched by his sincerity, Rawale immediately took Makode under his wings for a starting salary of Rs10,000. Makode now is one of his star students at the workshop.
“I am going to raise his salary soon,” Rawale says.
Zoom to get a view of a workshop in Chinchpokli:
Much like Makode, there seem to be several young artists for whom making Ganpati idols is more than just about devotion. It is a passion they wish to dedicate their entire life to. In the same workshop, 21-year-old Siddhi Shetye is perched on an unfinished 12-foot idol’s left shoulder, attempting some last-minute flourishes with a hand that is steady as a rock.
“I have been working here for the past five years,” Shetye, a resident of Mahalaxmi, says. This means she was all of 16 when she began making idols. “I knew from a young age I wanted to do this for a living,” she says. Her favourite part? “Designing the idols.”
Zoom to get a view of a workshop in Parel:
And while these artists may have had to search for mentors, some like Nikhil Khatu, 21, grew up in a house that made Ganpati idols for a living.
Nikhil, the nephew of renowned idol-maker, the late Vijay Khatu, said he has watched his uncle and father closely over the years and he definitely wishes to carry their legacy forward.
While still in college, Nikhil puts in the hours at the workshop daily, overseeing work and has a keen grasp of how the business works. “I can’t imagine doing anything else,” he says.