A big “Q” was before me. Who would be the best persons to judge these entries? It was necessary to understand the concept of the competition by them, otherwise again the same questions of age, state, genders etc will arrive. A big list was there carrying big names. I had chosen two names- Mr. Subodh Poddar and Ms. Sarita Chauhan.
Subodh was a creative Director with a leading Advertisement Company. He is a very good artist, not in the field of painting, but he had learnt Odishi dance to create his own genre “Dance Scapes”, where dancers dance and he paints the Bhavas and Mudras of dancers. It’s an experience to see it. I was one of the luckiest to see his heart stealing program of “Dance Scapes”. He had done several shows of it along with almost all leading dancers of India and abroad. On my request, he had done a show for AVITOKO’s Annual program also. Subodh is a very kind hearted person. I know him from the day; I arrived in Mumbai, where he helped me selflessly to complete my assignments, given to me by Ms. Mrinal Pandey, the then editor of “Saptahik Hindustan”, a weekly magazine of Hindustan Times group.
Sarita Chauhan is a Delhi based self taught artist. She had had several group and solo shows in Delhi and other cities of India. In late twenties, she had shifted Mumbai along with his family. She is a very down to earth person. She was kind enough to take few classes during AVITOKO’s Art Workshops. She had given her services to other NGOs also.
We invited them and elaborated the concept and objectives of the competition. They were thrilled to see the entries. But it was a little difficult for them also to digest the concept. They just screamed, “Are you mad?”
I said, “Perhaps. Madness only can create a new world.” They smiled.
Evaluation was started. First elimination round was done. That was not a big task. Anyone can do it. Second elimination round was also done. It was a little difficult, but not a big deal. Now, third and final round! I was nervous. It’s time for real challenge. Whether I would be successful with my objectives to conduct this competition in open category? Really, there were entries from 45 years old grownups to 4 years child. All were in open category. Participants had shown their faith to this event.
I was seeing judges procedure. Both Subodh and Sarita were very seriously evaluating entries. Select entries were there. Tug of war was between two entries- Which one should be declared as First? Each and every aspect of the paintings was being discussed by both of them. Sarita was thinking for one painting and Subodh was stick on another. It was also explored that whether both should be declared as First?” They asked me. I very humbly said that “I don’t believe in lottery system. You both are great artists. Please have a new and fresh look for them and decide only one entry for First Prize.”
“Then first, we will have tea.” Subodh broke the tensed atmosphere. We all smiled. Hot tea was served to everyone. After the tea, again both works of art were examined by both of them. Finally, Subodh convinced Sarita about his decision. He explained about his choice of entry with all valid reasons. Sarita nodded her head. I was told about the decision- “This entry will go for first prize.”
Second, third and consolation prizes did not take much time. There was one more painting, kept aside by the judges. Subodh took this entry and said, “With your permission, I would like to give judge’s special prize to this entry. Sarita, do you agree with me?”
“Yes. Absolutely.” Sarita said.
Subodh turned to my side, “How about you?”
I was thinking about the fund. We, at AVITOKO were working without fund. Like mind people were there, who used to help us as and when needs arise. Subodh perhaps got my hesitation. He immediately declared –“And prize amount would be given by me…..I just can’t leave this painting as it is catching my attention from the beginning.”
All entries initially had been given with their numbers only. Names and other information were hidden. After declaration, envelops of names were open. We all just screamed- “O my God!” The first prize winner was really a four year old child from National School of Clean City, Mumbai. Second prize winner was a man. He had attached his photo also along with his entry, and in his photo, he was looking like 40-45 years old. I said Subodh, “See the result of my madness. Art and talent do not see the boundaries of any limitation. I am happy that my belief is saved.”
It was one more time to scream. Entry, which won the judge’s special prize was of a jail inmate, whose painting was sent for this open category competition by the authority of Thane Central Jail. I smiled but tears came in my eyes. Subodh hugged me and Sarita took me in her lap. ….(Contd.)