As Mumbai Indians (MI) skipper, Rohit Sharma effortlessly scored a four off the very first ball in the opening match of Indian Premier League (IPL) on 19 September, Sriram Sabhapathy, watching the match from Bengaluru, let out a sigh. It was not a good sign for his favourite team, Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
Five overs later, Rohit was removed by opponent Piyush Chawla. Though beaming with joy, Sriram acknowledged Rohit Sharma’s innings like a true sports fan.
Meanwhile Raaj, his co-worker, instantly pictured the uncanny similarity between Rohit and a Warli-themed painting. Just like the tribal art of Maharashtra, there was a contrast of sobriety and enthusiasm in Rohit’s IPL captainship and batting style. Raaj got to work, bringing his vision to life.
A few hours later, Raaj was ready with a rough picture infused with geometric shapes. The body took the shape of a triangle (depicting mountains) and the face was round (representing the Sun/Moon). The rectangular hands swung as if to hit a shot. It is quite an eye-catching piece based on the IPL.
Though this was not the first novel piece of art conceptualised by the Bengaluru-based ‘LastBench’ team, it still takes hours to make them – and all of this is for a good cause.
This one-it’s-kind series ‘Folk Cricket’ began against the backdrop of IPL fervour and is the startup’s pet project to help artisans who have been affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our company essentially helps corporations and organisations bring out their journeys through videos and other content-driven formats in creative and meaningful ways. Being an art-based company we realised that art is not an essential item and people will refrain from buying them for some time. Small artisans have been hit severely so we wanted to do our bit by coming up with an IPL series that people would easily relate to,” Sriram tells The Better India.
The team hopes to sell their creations as merchandise and the proceeds of the sales will go to the artisans, “We are currently in talks with an artisan organisation and companies who could help us merchandise,” says Sriram.
It was Raaj Rufaro, a visual arts student at Chitra Kala Parishad, who identified the nation’s pulse at the right time and came up with an idea that would also promote regional traditional artforms like Warli, Bommalattam, Kalighat and so on alongside the IPL.
“Our love for cricket and cricketer worshipping is well-known. We looked for artforms that were not too regional so that people could relate. We gathered all resources from friends, the internet and various write-ups. For each sketch, we have to do extensive research to find commonalities between the artform and player,” says Raaj.
It takes multiple trials and errors before finalising the look. Bringing out key characteristics of the players while ensuring that the art form is not altered in any way is the most challenging part. For instance, they started with Tanjore painting but failed to relate it a cricketer’s personality.
For some sketches, the amalgamation comes naturally like in the case of Virat Kohli, the captain of Royal Challenger Banglore’s (RCB) and Rohit Sharma.
“Togalu Gombeyatta is a popular puppet show format in Karnataka where the artist sits behind the light source and leads the puppet movements. Likewise, the tidings of RCB fall in the hands of Virat during the IPL. With his spellbinding performance in every match, he pulls the strings of victory,” explains Sriram.
In their ongoing series, the team has come up with five sketches (as of 30th September) and will unveil others in the upcoming weeks.
From MS Dhoni’s Bommalattam puppet show to Andre Russel, the ‘Kali’ of Kolkata Knight Riders, here’s a look at majestic IPL art by LastBench:
Get in touch with LastBench here
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)