Photos: Calendar art thrives in the digital age

Calendars with images from Hindu mythology, an essential part of India’s visual culture, continue to thrive even in the digital age. In fact, top traders and manufacturers in Delhi say the sales of wall calendars remains steady with some even reporting an increase in the past few years. At wholesale, the cheapest pocket calendar can be priced as low as 20 paisa. No wonder then that paper calendars have continued to be the cheapest and an effective means of advertising for businesses of all sizes — a way for brands to make and maintain their social and commercial connections since the early 20th century.

Updated On Dec 16, 2019 05:34 PM IST 9 Photos
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Ranjeet Singh is applying finishing touches to a Lord Krishna painting in his studio in west Delhi’s Moti Nagar. With him are a galaxy of gods —Shiva, Ganesha, Vishnu, the Buddha, all painted by him and his brother. Set up in 1951 by his father and uncle, the studio “Rangroop”, is known for its calendar art. “Many people think that calendar art is dead, but the fact is my hands are full,” says Singh, and he isn’t exaggerating. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Ranjeet Singh is applying finishing touches to a Lord Krishna painting in his studio in west Delhi’s Moti Nagar. With him are a galaxy of gods —Shiva, Ganesha, Vishnu, the Buddha, all painted by him and his brother. Set up in 1951 by his father and uncle, the studio “Rangroop”, is known for its calendar art. “Many people think that calendar art is dead, but the fact is my hands are full,” says Singh, and he isn’t exaggerating. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Updated on Dec 16, 2019 05:34 PM IST
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Raja Ravi Varma, known as the father of Indian calendar art, was the first Indian artist to give a face to Hindu gods and goddesses on canvas. Till then, they had only been depicted as sculptures in temples. Many of Verma’s famous paintings — Goddess Laxmi floating on a lotus in full bloom; an erudite Saraswati playing the veena, among others — are said to have been modelled on his relatives and the people around him. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Raja Ravi Varma, known as the father of Indian calendar art, was the first Indian artist to give a face to Hindu gods and goddesses on canvas. Till then, they had only been depicted as sculptures in temples. Many of Verma’s famous paintings — Goddess Laxmi floating on a lotus in full bloom; an erudite Saraswati playing the veena, among others — are said to have been modelled on his relatives and the people around him. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Updated on Dec 16, 2019 05:34 PM IST
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In the 1940s and 60s, artists such as SM Pandit, K Madhavan, Raghuvir Mulgaonkar, BG Sharma made their mark in calendar art; P.Sardar, JP Singhal, Indra Sharma, Yogendra Rastogi, were among the most sought artists in the 1970 and 80s. Many artists — working outside the mainstream scene — started their own studios: Studio SM Pandit and Mukgaonkar Art Studio in Mumbai, Rangroop in Delhi— where they collaborated with fellow artists. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

In the 1940s and 60s, artists such as SM Pandit, K Madhavan, Raghuvir Mulgaonkar, BG Sharma made their mark in calendar art; P.Sardar, JP Singhal, Indra Sharma, Yogendra Rastogi, were among the most sought artists in the 1970 and 80s. Many artists — working outside the mainstream scene — started their own studios: Studio SM Pandit and Mukgaonkar Art Studio in Mumbai, Rangroop in Delhi— where they collaborated with fellow artists. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Updated on Dec 16, 2019 05:34 PM IST
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In the 1940s and 60s, artists such as SM Pandit, K Madhavan, Raghuvir Mulgaonkar, BG Sharma made their mark; P.Sardar, JP Singhal, Indra Sharma, Yogendra Rastogi, were among the most sought after in the 1970 and 80s. Many calendar artists — working outside the mainstream art scene — started their own studios: Studio SM Pandit and Mukgaonkar Art Studio in Mumbai, Rangroop in Delhi— where they collaborated with fellow artists. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

In the 1940s and 60s, artists such as SM Pandit, K Madhavan, Raghuvir Mulgaonkar, BG Sharma made their mark; P.Sardar, JP Singhal, Indra Sharma, Yogendra Rastogi, were among the most sought after in the 1970 and 80s. Many calendar artists — working outside the mainstream art scene — started their own studios: Studio SM Pandit and Mukgaonkar Art Studio in Mumbai, Rangroop in Delhi— where they collaborated with fellow artists. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Updated on Dec 16, 2019 05:34 PM IST
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And then there is the challenge of portraying god. Ranjeet Singh of Rangroop feels keeping the taste and sensibilities of the customer in mind leaves artists little scope says Singh. VV Sapar, a celebrated artist, has a different take. “The problem… has to do with the mindset of people who would not want a dancing Ganesha, but only the Ganesha sitting on a throne. So artists have been afraid to experiment with calendar art,” he says. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

And then there is the challenge of portraying god. Ranjeet Singh of Rangroop feels keeping the taste and sensibilities of the customer in mind leaves artists little scope says Singh. VV Sapar, a celebrated artist, has a different take. “The problem… has to do with the mindset of people who would not want a dancing Ganesha, but only the Ganesha sitting on a throne. So artists have been afraid to experiment with calendar art,” he says. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Updated on Dec 16, 2019 05:34 PM IST
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Many artists say that computers and software such as Photoshop have adversely affected their art even as the demand for calendars remains high. Prakash Chandra Gilotra, who runs Subhash Calendar Co in Delhi’s Nai Sarak, which has been in the business since 1971, says he has over 2,000 original calendar paintings in his collection and does not commission many new calendar paintings. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Many artists say that computers and software such as Photoshop have adversely affected their art even as the demand for calendars remains high. Prakash Chandra Gilotra, who runs Subhash Calendar Co in Delhi’s Nai Sarak, which has been in the business since 1971, says he has over 2,000 original calendar paintings in his collection and does not commission many new calendar paintings. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Updated on Dec 16, 2019 05:34 PM IST
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“Very few artists are left,” says Gilotra, his first floor shop adorned with calendars. His view is supported by M L Garg, managing director, Brjbasi Art Press, one of the country’s biggest calendar makers. “We still print millions of calendars every year; they are as popular as ever in smaller towns. But most top calendar artists who worked for us are no more. Now we use old paintings with some changes by our in-house team of digital artists,” he said. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

“Very few artists are left,” says Gilotra, his first floor shop adorned with calendars. His view is supported by M L Garg, managing director, Brjbasi Art Press, one of the country’s biggest calendar makers. “We still print millions of calendars every year; they are as popular as ever in smaller towns. But most top calendar artists who worked for us are no more. Now we use old paintings with some changes by our in-house team of digital artists,” he said. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Updated on Dec 16, 2019 05:34 PM IST
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Calendars are seen hanging at Sadar Bazar. Original calendar art and calendars are fast becoming collectibles. An online platform Kalakriti sells original paintings by celebrated calendar artists. The works of SM Pandit and C Kondiah Raju, fetch anything between Rs 2 lakh to 2.5 lakh. “The government should take steps to preserve their artwork, which are an important part of our country’s mass culture,” says Rahul Rajora, its founder. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Calendars are seen hanging at Sadar Bazar. Original calendar art and calendars are fast becoming collectibles. An online platform Kalakriti sells original paintings by celebrated calendar artists. The works of SM Pandit and C Kondiah Raju, fetch anything between Rs 2 lakh to 2.5 lakh. “The government should take steps to preserve their artwork, which are an important part of our country’s mass culture,” says Rahul Rajora, its founder. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Updated on Dec 16, 2019 05:34 PM IST
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Back at Subhash Calendar Co at Nai Sarak, in the span of a conversation, a customer asks 5000 calendars featuring Ram Darbar. Gilotra check his stock, puts up his price, and the order is fulfilled within minutes. Another customer from Bihar comes in and asks for 10,000 Krishna calendar. “You see, a calendar has both religious and ornamental significance. It will never be outdated,” says Gilotra. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Back at Subhash Calendar Co at Nai Sarak, in the span of a conversation, a customer asks 5000 calendars featuring Ram Darbar. Gilotra check his stock, puts up his price, and the order is fulfilled within minutes. Another customer from Bihar comes in and asks for 10,000 Krishna calendar. “You see, a calendar has both religious and ornamental significance. It will never be outdated,” says Gilotra. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Updated on Dec 16, 2019 05:34 PM IST
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Tuesday, October 19, 2021