The story of nature’s very own artist, Lalit Mohan Roy

0
33119
Mr. Lalit Mohan Roy

Dumka, one of the oldest districts of Jharkhand and the homeland of the Santhal tribes is full of beautiful landscapes, stunning valleys, meandering rivers and magnificent mountains. Apart from its natural exquisiteness, the land has also produced some legendary artists who conveyed its splendor to the rest of the world. Mr. Lalit Mohan Roy is one of them. He is a self-styled and self-learned artist of Santhal Pargana who stroked the life and beauty of this tribal land on his paintings.

How it started?

Illustration of life by Mr. Roy
Illustration of life by Mr. Roy

Mr. Roy says painting had never been a profession for me. It was always a leisure pursuit. He had worked for the Department of Statistics, Government of Bihar (then Jharkhand). For his job, he had to visit various places, stop by every door, assemble the people and make reports for the government. His job made him explore the region, the culture and the people living there. During these visits he collected everything he could in his mind and stroked his collection and experiences on canvas in spare time.

The Landscape of Santhal Pargana
The Landscape of Santhal Pargana
The People
The People

The theme of his paintings is the life of the local tribe and the landscape of the region. He never got a formal training; he had learned everything from the nature itself.  That is the reason his works portrays the beauty of Santhal Pargana. It describes their life-style, where they live, how they celebrate social occasions and the scenic beauty of their region. His sculptures and statuettes also carry the same signature. Here are some examples of his works:

The Liberty
The Liberty

Mr. Roy is not just an exceptional painter, he is a true artist. If you ever visit his residence then you will agree with me without any question. His works include papers works, crafts of POP (Plaster of Paris), wooden sculptures, clay sculptures etc. The way he turns a waste material into art exhibits his imagination.

cccc
A dog is an integral part of Mr. Roy’s paintings

Collections of Mr. Roy’s art can be seen in Dumka Museum, Santhal Nritya Kala Kendra, Bhagalpur Museum and Patna Museum. Some admirers of him have also collected his works on their individual level all over the world like Delhi, Canada, USA, Japan, England etc.

Awards & Achievements:

Mr. Roy says painting was never his profession, but the people and art lovers recognized his talent and remarkable works quickly. He gives all of the credits to his friends and colleagues who supported and encouraged him. Some of them are Mr. Hari Uppal (Padma Sri and founder of Bhartiya Nritya Kala Mandir, Patna) and Mr. Upendra Maharathi, a legendary painter of Bihar. Mr. Roy believes that the presence of such great artists helped him to cultivate as an artist.

With then Chief Minister of Bihar, Sri Bhagwat Jha Azad during his exhibition
With then Chief Minister of Bihar, Sri Bhagwat Jha Azad during his own exhibition

The first painting exhibition of Mr. Roy was organized at Dumka in the year 1960. Dumka witnessed many of his exhibitions in later years such as 1966, 1968, 1989, 2006 and 2013. Apart from his home town, exhibitions took place in Mumbai (1966), Bhagalpur (1978), New Delhi (1986), Raiganj and Deoghar (2004), Ranchi (2006) and Murshidabad in the year 2015.

Honorary Memorandum by Govt. of Jharkhand
Honorary Memorandum by Govt. of Jharkhand

Mr. Roy also participated in numerous seminars and functions as well being invited by many organizations on their functions and gatherings. He had participated in the exhibition and seminar of Museum Week in Bhagalpur during 1978-79. Following that he came into the Annual Function of Times of India in Patna, in the year 1986. In 1986, he also participated in the Bengal Cultural Festival in Durgapur, National Cultural Festival (Apna Ustav) in New Delhi and Lok Utsav in Lucknow. He also participated in Kala Sangam organized by Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre, Kolkata in the year 2006.

Mr. Roy with fellow artists during Kala Sangam at Dumka
Mr. Roy with fellow artists during Kala Sangam at Dumka

District Administration Award                        1961
“Kalashree” by Hon’ble CM, Bihar                  1970
“Pride of Jharkhand” by VSSK Sansthan         2002
Selected Personality of Bihar & Jharkhand      2001-02
Rastria Shikhar Samman Puraskar                 2015

Mr. Lalit Mohan Roy has also received appreciations from the President of USA, Sri Jaswant Sinha (Former Foreign Minister of India) and eminent artists like Sri J. P. Singhal and Sri Ram Kumar of Mumbai.

School of Art:

The School of Art trains young boys and girls of Dumka in painting, drawing, photography, sculpture etc. The school was started by Mr. L. M. Roy himself and is currently managed by his son Somnath Roy. Mr. Roy says starting an art school was never on his mind. It started in mid nineties when a few Marwari girls came to him to learn painting and drawing. Then the school got its name and sign-board. It was officially inaugurated in 1988. The Bengali community of the area welcomed his initiative and showed their support. We Bengalis love and encourage everything art, be it painting, music, acting or writing. But, Mr. Roy has a different story to tell. In his words, “I thought Bengalis are good in arts and I will find good Bengali students, but I didn’t. They love art, encourage it, practice it but very few master it. Every one in ten Bengali house you can find a harmonium and girls practicing Rabindra Sangeet etc. But, there is no Lata Mangeshkar among them.” I could not agree more. Even so, he does mention remembering a Bengali brother-sister duo as brilliant students. Mr. Roy also believes that non-residents Bengalis are often more engrossed to the Bengali culture than Bengalis of Bengal. May be living outside of their homeland is the reason behind it.

The Maluti Chapter:

The Tableau of Jharkhand on Republic Day Parade 2015
The Tableau of Jharkhand on Republic Day Parade 2015

Maluti a village of temples situated in Jharkhand-West Bengal border with rich heritage and an interesting past came into the national canvas after the Jharkhand Tableau came second best during the 66th Republic Day Parade on 26th January 2015. Maluti was the capital of Nankar Raj (tax-free kingdom) during fifteenth century, ruled by Baj Basanta and his dynasty. The Nankar Rajas were devoted worshipers of Lord Shiva. So, they built temples instead of palaces. It is believed that a total 108 temples were built then, but their successors could not maintain all of them. Today, only 72 temples are there.Only a few people know that Mr. L. M. Roy has played an important role in bringing Maluti into limelight. While talking about his experience he said –

“A friend of mine, who was curator of Bhagalpur Museum, was looking for heritage sites and ancient architecture. He was doing research in Terracotta architecture.  He asked and I told him that a small village named Maluti has around 72 temples built with Terracotta architecture. I have once visited the village in my childhood. A school teacher of Maluti Mr. Gopaldas Mukherjee was known to me, so I took him along us. My curator friend was very impressed after visiting Maluti. He went back to Bhagalpur and shared his experience with then District Commissioner of Bhagalpur. The Bhagalpur DC almost came immediately to Dumka and visited my residence. We revisited the village with the District Commissioner. They explored the whole village, visited each and every temple and discovered the history behind the temples from local residents. Then Commissioner of Bhagalpur, Mr. Arun Pathak were also interested in Maluti after knowing about it. We also made a visit to the village with Mr. Pathak. All this happened during 1978-79. My curator friend made a detailed documentary of the temples. Mr. Mukherjee also authored a book on Maluti, which depicted my paintings and photographs.”

At a Glance

Based on the interview with Mr. Lalit Mohan Roy on 21st May, 2016