Surat's heritage survive in Smart's drawings

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Surat, Jan 1: The beauty and elegance of the Reclamation buildings in Nanpura and Rander Bunglow in Chotta Bazar, the two architectural marvels in the city of Surat, which do not exist any more have been preserved by Jagdeep Smart's intricately drawn skethches.

Painter and poet Jagdeep Smart never thought that he was documenting the charm of the cultural heritage of old Surat, when he had sketched more than 50 drawings of old buildings, streets and cityscapes of a foregone era.

The buildings do not survive partly due to the onslaught of time and partly due to the indifference of the administrators or citizens. These two heritage buildings were demolished.

''All these sketches were created during 1986-87. That was a time when I was seriously thinking about devoting fully for painting. I did these drawings as part of my daily practise...but I never thought that many of these buildings would be demolished later and will disappear forever from the landscape of the city,'' Mr Smart said.

Many of the old buildings in the city like Andrews Library and Jamshatji Jeejabhai Training College both in Chowk area, Randerwala Building in Chotta Bazar and Reclamation building in Nanpura and Ashwini Kumar temple are recreated in the drawings by Smart.

''Randerwala Bunglow in Chotta Bazar was owned by the famous Hadvaids (traditional born doctors) of Chotta Bazar. It was demolished some years back and they constructed a new building there,'' Smart said.

Reclamation building owned by Vohra family was demolished around 1990 and a new multi-storey building had replaced it.

Smart thinks that drawing these sketches helped him in doing paintings in oil and acrylic mediums later. His sketches of the streets in Gopipura area where he spent his childhood, belong to the genre of perspective drawings.

One can study the architectural styles and character of the old buildings of many of Surat's streets from these sketches. Distinctively carved windows, ornated doors and balconies of the buildings are captured and preserved in the sketches of Smart. These sketches gives a clear idea of the architectural styles used and the way in which streets were planned in a period.

A post-graduate in Fine Arts from M S University, Baroda, Jagdeep Smart thinks that Surat's heritage buildings are still not preserved well.

''Archeological monuments like Dutch and Armenian Cemetries are maintained by Archeology department. But Surat has a rich heritage of various architectural styles. We can see different styles like Gothic and Saracenic in these buildings....but the sad fact is that many of these buildings are disappearing from the city landscape.'' It was his uncle Vasudev Smart, an eminent painter, who had inspired Smart to venture into the world of lines and colours.

A product of J J School of Arts, Mumbai, Vasudev Smart was a teacher of painting in Banaras Hindu University and Jagdeep did his school studies in Banaras.

''After completing my studies in Baroda I went to Banaras and spend some months there. During those days I had also sketched the city of Banaras,'' Smart said.

Smart is also interested in theatre and is closely associated with renowned Gujarati theatre personalities like Kapildev Shukla. He is currently engaged in doing a series of paintings on the concept of Soothradhara taken from Sanskrit theatre and traditional puppetry.

Also a poet Smart had translated the autobiography of renowned painter M F Hussain into Gujarati, titled 'Dadano Dangaro Likho...'


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