READING TIME 3 Minutes
I was in Pune recently, and went for lunch to a restaurant called 'Vaishali', located in Deccan. When I walked out of the restaurant, I expected to see nothing more than the usual Pune traffic. But after just walking a few steps, I was stopped by the sight of a man sitting on the footpath and making the most breathtaking portraits with colour pencils...
Meet Rajendra Khale, the 52 year old artist who was reunited with his passion after an accident.
Rajendra's inclination was always towards drawing and painting, even when he was in school. He would pick up a pencil, a sheet of paper and draw whenever he could. But soon, his conditions got the better of him and he started working odd jobs, juggling different roles like that of a waste picker, waiter and a daily wage worker to earn for his survival. His passion was lost in the hustle bustle of daily life, until an accident brought his life to a standstill a few years ago.
Wanting to live a life of dignity, he refused to beg on the streets, and instead reunited with his passion. Initially, he would sit on the footpath and make pictures of God, but when people started noticing his work and asking to buy his drawings, he shifted to portrait making.
"I didn't want to take money for images of God",
he says. Rajendra has never been formally educated in the arts, but the portraits he makes are nothing short of spectacular. He is also grateful to have received tips and help from artists who spot him on the road.
A highlight in his career was when an influential man spotted him, and asked him to make a portrait of Amitabh Bachchan and Harivansh Rai Bachchan. The portrait landed in the hands of Mr. Bachchan himself!
Rajendra Khale is truly an inspiration. He followed his passion in such dire conditions, when begging for money would have been the easier way out. It is absolutely overwhelming to watch him draw.
If you're in Pune, make sure to support Rajendra Khale. He charges anywhere between Rs.200 - Rs.500 for a portrait depending on the size and detailing, and takes about 3-4 hours to make a live portrait, and around 1.5 hours to replicate a picture. Be sure to give orders in advance though, because these days his schedule his packed!
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