Sanam Feroz may have a large number of subjects to choose from while painting murals but she is quick to point out Krishna and Radha as her favourites. | K Shijith
Visitors to a shopping festival recently held in Kozhikode in Kerala were struck by a number of exquisite mural paintings on display. The paintings, featuring Hindu deities like Krishna and Ganesha, were the exact replicas of the ones found on the walls of many ancient temples in Kerala and one might have expected the works to be that of a seasoned master. But few would have expected them to be painted by a 32-year-old Muslim woman who has never even been inside a temple.
For Sanam Feroz, however, the knowledge that she will never be allowed inside a Hindu temple was no deterrent when it came to pursuing her passion for painting murals. She was first exposed to the art of painting murals during a camp at Organisation for Industrial Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (OISCA) two years ago and she has not put down her paint brush ever since.
“I never had any formal training in painting though I did take up an active interest in it when I was studying in college,” she says. “Then I attended the course at OISCA a couple of years ago and got introduced to the world of mural art.” And the training that she received there ensured that the murals she draws are not meaningless. “We were not only taught how to draw them but were also given a crash course in the stories that are behind various murals. It was then that I understood that each pose had its own significance and that the whole art was a way of telling stories,” she says.
It was the colour and complication of the style that first drove her to learn how to draw murals, she says. “Murals are not that easy to draw. When I first saw them, I could not figure out where they began and where they ended. It was my desire to learn how it was made that led me to be a student of the style,” she says. Sanam may have a large number of subjects to choose from while painting murals but she is quick to point out Krishna and Radha as her favourites.
“Krishna and Radha are unique as in no matter how you draw the two, the painting always ends up looking good. You also have a large number of poses to choose from. I also like painting Ganesha a lot,” she says.
Sanam comes from a conservative Muslim background and despite the subjects that she was depicting, her family never once discouraged her from pursuing her passion. “They have given me their full support and have encouraged me all the time. If it were not for their encouragement, I would not even have signed up for that course by OISCA. I am now doing what my family did for me for my children and teaching them to draw murals,” she says.