Title: Painting and Theatre in Kashmir—Suraj Tiku’s Journey
Author: Dr. Ramesh Tamiri
Published By: Suraj Foundation,Jammu
Price: Rs. 650 (HB), Rs300 (PB)
by Shyam Kaul
By profession Dr. Ramesh Tamiri is an Ophthalmologist. But those who know him closely, know him far less as a doctor than as an incisive researcher, a writer with a penchant for taking up unexplored subject, events and happenings in the history of Kashmir, and a keen observer and analyst of the impact of displacement of Kashmiri Pandit community from its land of birth, over twenty years ago.
Painting and Theatre in Kashmir is a comprehensive study of life and works of a talented Kashmiri painter, Suraj Tiku, who also earned fame as an outstanding theatre person, a set -designer and a stage actor, all rolled into one.
Dr. Tamiri’s sharp eye for research had naturally made him delve deep into Tiku’s accomplishments, both as a painter and as a generous contributor to the theatre movement in Kashmir. The narrative itself bears testimony that the author has gone deep into the status and estimation of painting and theater during Tiku’s days and the talented artists, artistes, motivators and trend setters whose hands and minds were at work at that time. From the blend of these two finer pursuits, Dr. Tamiri carves out the persona of Suraj Tiku, a unique instance of distinction in both the pursuits.
The cultural renaissance that surged up in Kashmir with the dawn of independence in 1947 marks the rebirth of Kashmir’s intellectual and artistic brilliance after inertia and silence of centuries. That was an epoch-making time when Kashmir witnessed the sprouting of talent and talented men and women in a variety of finer endeavors, such as poetry, music, art, literature, theatre, drama and other cultural activities. It was a sweeping tide that heralded the arrival of the genius of Kashmir.
In 1947, Suraj Tiku, then 18 had already done a diploma in fine arts from Amar Singh Technical Institute, after which he took a job of a drawing teacher in Hoshiarpur, Punjab. Later he returned to Kashmir to join a government school here, also as a drawing master. In 1966 he joined songs and Drama Division, but finally found his real moorings in the school designs, Srinagar where his talent flowered as landscape painter to tis best.
Suraj was a natural artist, a self made person. The only noteworthy guidance and inspiration he got as a youngster. Was the patronage of his talented teacher, Kashinath Bhan, in Amarsingh Technical Institute? All his life Suraj respected and treated him as his Guru.
Actually Suraj was not the product of the cultural resurgence of 1947 in the strict sense of the word. His strong inborn proclivity for drawing and painting had by 1947 already led him to settle down mainly landscape painting, along with his passion for theatre. In later years it was in the school of designs where he had the company of such distinguished artists as Triloke Kaul, P.N. Kachru, S.N. Bhat, Somnath Khosa and others, that Suraj attained finesse, fulfilment and also acclaim.
As an artist, Suraj was essentially a loner, not the one often found among one’s tribe. That could be the reason for his belated recognition. In fact he drew more attention as a stage artiste and a theatre designer, rather than as a painter. But is it also not a fact that painters, by and large, are a tribe whose eminence is mostly confined to the circles of connoisseurs of art. Suraj could not be an exception.
As its name suggests, Painting and Theatre in Kashmir, is a combination of two books on two different subjects, which converge on the central character, Suraj Tiku. Dr. Tamiri has done it so deftly as to produce a publication which could aptly be called an encyclopedic digest. The book is not only interesting, informative and readable but also a valuable reference material for those interested in painting and theatre.
The book is tastefully embellished with a rich collection of reproductions of some of Tiku’s works, especially his eye-catching landscapes, portraits and illustrations of well-known people from different walks of life who were close to Tiku, or inspired him, or played a role in shaping him as a painter of class, and an accomplished theatre person.
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