By Suchita Mundhra
A bold line drawn horizontally or vertically, is not just a line but defines the way you ‘stand in a society’. This is the line and the philosophy on which Achyut Palav, an alumnus of Sir JJ Institute of Applied Art, has been following for the past 25 years. His workshop on ‘Classic Calligraphy with Sanskrit Styles’ in The Times of India Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, 2010 was an introductory session, open to anybody above the age of 12 years. Calligraphy, an ancient art is not only about writing creatively and beautifully with curving the alphabets and experimenting with the bold and thin lines. It is an entire philosophy and has an aesthesis to it. The way one uses lines and the distances between lines is a reflection of the self. It is human behaviour, which reflects in this form of writing. It also gives one the power to concentrate and focus. His workshop tried to incorporate some of these elements concentrating more on acquiring the skill.
A one and a half hour workshop surely cannot teach this art in detail but is enough to create and arouse interest. This art of holding the pen (the tip of the pen is flat, instead of pointed) correctly is the first step of learning calligraphy. There are some strict rules that need to be adhered while employing this form. Holding the pen at an angle of 45 degrees and not changing the position of the pen while writing the alphabets. This ground rule has to be followed to write in the Devanagari script. The artist also showed various ways the alphabets can be used to create a design for a t-shirt. Seeing him at work was a pleasure as he shares a passion for this art.
People of all age group and different occupations were seen in the workshop. Interestingly, housewives with their kids attended the workshop and also discovered(some of them had never thought it was an impossible task) their creativity. This is what Preeti, a mother of a ten year old had to say, ‘I never thought that I could write anything this beautifully. When the workshop started I found it mundane because I was not being able to hold the pen properly. But, if I can learn it in half an hour then with greater practise I am confident I can design cards and t-shirts on my own.’ Irony has its place everywhere, a doctor, who are known to have bad hand writing did a spectacular job. With Valentine ’s Day just around the corner most of them participants scribbled (initially) their partner’s names.
While being a participant myself I realised how important it is to concentrate while creating alphabets. The artist himself has not restricted himself to writing only alphabets but plays around with musical notes and adds them with the alphabets. He is almost a whiz at the art. When asked how did he get into this art, he replied with no second thoughts, ‘ I always wanted to learn calligraphy and take this art forward .It is a very good way to express your thoughts which words and sentences cannot always do .’ Like any other form of art even calligraphy articulates the mood, the nature of an artist. Achut Palav to take forward this form has opened the first school in Navi Mumbai that teaches calligraphy formally.
A veteran in this field, he has also worked with eminent calligraphers Late Prof. R. K. Joshi and Prof. Werner Schneider. He has also initiated the movement Urja, which pledged to popularise this form of art and bring it to every Indian home.