Meet the Mumbai artist who creates portraits using a typewriter, saving obsolete machines

Meet the Mumbai artist Chandrakant Bhide, who creates portraits using a typewriter, saving obsolete machines

Jay Mehta January 25, 2018 13:34:52 IST

"Dilip Kumar’s portrait took me more than six hours to make," says Chandrakant Bhide, as he runs his fingers over a laminated portrait of the late film star. "You see, getting the detailing of the hair and skin right was quite a challenge."

We visited the renowned typewriter artist at his home – a small house perched on top of a vibrant chawl in Dadar, Mumbai.

"I wanted to study at the JJ School of Art to become a commercial artist, but, due to financial constraints, I couldn't study there,” recounts Bhide, who describes himself as a 'self-taught' artist. His father encouraged him to take up type-writing and stenography, as those were skills in demand at the time.

"But the artist in me didn't want to give up," says Bhide with a smile. He soon discovered a way to create art with his work tool. However, he is quick to point out that he never concentrated on his art during work hours. “I never used to do the artwork during office hours. If I wanted to pursue it, then I would make it a point to go two hours earlier.”

Bhide, who opted for voluntary retirement from Union Bank in 1996, was gifted his favourite typewriter. "I went to the administration department of the bank with a request to purchase the typewriter. But they refused to give it away," he recollects. After this, he met the chairman of the bank, Mr Panneer Selvam, and explained his desire to buy the device. Mr Selvam, taking note of the request, allowed Bhide to buy the typewriter for one rupee.

“This is one of the greatest gifts I have received in all my life – my typewriter,” says Bhide, pointing towards his tiny work station.

Bhide started making portraits with the alphabet 'x', but his father motivated him to try other keys on the keyboard as well. "It is important to constantly push yourself and learn more," he says.

The artist, who draws inspiration from the likes of RK Laxman, Mario Miranda and Vikas Sabnis, is currently learning to make art with the aid of computers. "It is not the same as typewriters, though. We can't undo or delete while working with a typewriter," he adds.

Bhide's portraits are well known across Mumbai and the art has helped him meet famous personalities from several fields. “Through this art form, I met so many people and personalities, and I took their autograph wherever possible. They, too, liked this idea.”

Bhide started making portraits on the Halda typewriter in 1967. 50 years later, his enthusiasm level remains the same. While typewriters have become redundant, Bhide's art has stood the test of time.

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