He has participated in over 50 international sand art championships and won most of them. But, Sudarsan Pattnaik's smile and humbleness reminds you that his soil, his land had never left him. He speaks less, but speaks with a determination, garnered with a generosity that comes only when you have struggled a lot to reach the top.
As he says, "Unless you struggle, you do not know what life is. You have to keep trying to taste victory. You will reach a level for sure and there will be no looking back."
OneIndia's exclusive interview with this man of the soil narrates a man's struggle to keep the fire of his passion burning against all odds and finally emerge victorious. Here's full interview with the King of Sand:
Your experience on winning Gold at the Moscow Championships
It is a moment of pride for me, winning Gold for the nation. There were a total of 20 top-class participants and I was the solo representative from India.
The Jury liked my theme as it dealt with a current scenario with a symbolical representation of the past. Mahatma Gandhi is an international figure and everyone knows of his contribution toward World Peace. The present day scenario where terror attacks are rampant, I thought Gandhiji's 3 monkeys will be the best representatives of peace.
[Read: Who is Sudarsan Pattnaik? ]
Your inspiration for learning sand art?
It was more of a passion than inspiration. However, every passion should also have a motivation and an inspiration. The people of my land are my inspiration, the beaches here, the sun, the waves and the people of Odisha. The world is my inspiration.
I have learnt a lot from the world and its people. I have learnt a lot from mylife. I worked as a child labour at my neighbor's house, but loved playing with the sand, which gradually turned into a passion. Sand art came to me naturally and no one taught me how to do it. I learnt as I struggled. I started at the age of 7 and here I am painting my imagination in the nature.
In fact, I would say any art comes as a package, which is a blend of personal experiences and thought process. And there is no end to learning it. My experiences are at a broader level and so are my inspirations.
What personal and professional challenges did you overcome to reach here?
Let me be very clear about these. I never regretted the challenges I faced, because they shaped me. As I said, I had to work as a child labour to make both the ends meet, but I had a knack to change situations in favour of me. I learnt many languages, and it began with Bengali as the family I worked for was Bengali.
I did not know English, but God granted me a gift. Since I used to work on the beaches where people from various countries came, I picked up several languages from there. When I started participating in various national and international competitions, I had to communicate and there I picked up a few more languages.
(Sharing an interesting incident regarding his communication skills, he jokes)
I went to London once. There, the gentleman at the immigration counter asked me the purpose of my visit. Unable to speak English, I took out an album and showed him the pictures to tell him that I was a sand artist. When I visited Italy for a competition, I had to draw a water bottle to make the organisers understand that I was feeling thirsty, a picture of chicken to tell them I wanted food.
Since I did not undertand them, I used to speak in Odia to see if they understood what I wanted.
Where do you see sand art from here?
Let me rephrase the question for you. Where did you see sand art, 5 years ago? I never imagined that this would be the case with an art form that was not even known to Indians.
I had to travel a lot to make Indians aware of this art form, I spoke to various people and showed them my work. Gradually things changed and people started recognising my talent. It all came with hard work and perseverence. I have a very good team and have opened a Sand Art Institute, which comprises 50 students. But I need help to expand it.
I dream of making a sand art park, but the concept would be museum-like, akin to Maddam Tussaud's Wax Museum. However, there are financial challenges that I have to overcome, which is possible only with the help of the State and the Central government.
Not merely a story of Rags to Riches, Sudarsan Pattnaik is an inspiration for millions across the world who live for their country and are ready to sie for their passion. His richness is not by money, but by heart because India resides in it.