CHENNAI: Kamsan, Kumbakarnan, Kakasuran, Thadagai, Mahishasuran, Naragasuran… What would you do if you are in a room with these incredible asuras from Indian mythology? We were fortunate enough to not only witness these 70-odd asuras, but also celebrate them at Thejus’ Swarna Kolu, an exhibition of dolls and idols on the theme ‘Asuras’.
Seventy-two exhibits, each decked with elaborately handcrafted miniature dolls of asuras, from Ravanan, Akasuran, Bhasmasuran to several lesser-known mythical characters, are on display. “This was my six-year-old grandson’s idea. He said, ‘Paati, asuras are just different, not bad. Why not exhibit them in your golu this year?’. I agreed. We have also added characters like Saguni and Vaali. They weren’t born in the asura kulam, but had negative shades — a trait that is often attributed to asuras,” says Shanthi Chandrasheker of Thejus.
Each exhibit depicts episodes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana. While the common thread that connects these characters is the warfare and the eventual end they meet, Shanthi has picked narratives that are not usually depicted through visual imagery and props.
The depiction of Ravanan playing the veena made out of one of his ten heads, hands and intestines to please Shiva, warriors trying to wake the mighty Kumbakaranan, and the episode of Kakasuran, the son of Indra disguised as a crow pecking Sita’s bosom, are some. “I didn’t want to choose the war as the backdrop for the storyboard. Every exhibit would have looked similar. So, I decided to pick sub-stories,” explains Shanthi.
All the dolls have been painstakingly made by Shanthi. “Some dolls have been repurposed from our previous Swarna Kolu editions. But most were specifically made for this exhibition. The heads were bought separately, the body and features were weaved, painted and fixed accordingly,” she says.
To depict the strong and muscular physique of asuras, Shanthi has even used figurines of the Hulk, adding appropriate accessories to turn the green monster-turned-superhero into an Indian asura. “I have used Chota Bheem erasers, masks that were bought in different parts of India and smaller elements that I have collected over time to create this,” she shares.
It took over two months for Shanthi to work on the asuras list, create a storyboard and make the figurines and backdrops. “This is an attempt to bring the younger generation closer to the rich stories in our mythology,” she says.Visit the Swarna Kolu at Thejus, Park View, GN Chetty Road, T Nagar. For details, call: 9444000060/28156370