A mural artwork in Karnataka's capital, Bengaluru, has struck the right chords with the people in the city and netizens on social media.
The artwork features the iconic scene from Titanic where Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack and Kate Winslet's Rose stand on the ship's deck at the bow, stretching out their arms...tasting freedom and togetherness.
However, this version of the 'iconic moment' has a twist in the tale. The characters have been painted embracing the COVID-19 essentials, face masks and social distancing.
Baadal Nanjundaswamy is the creative genius behind the wall painting and other street arts adorning several areas of the city.
"I like to let my art do the talking. Visual communication is the medium through which I like to communicate with people, those are my words," Baadal told The Logical Indian.
Baadal shot to fame with his 'Moonwalk Installation' in 2019 where he donned a spacesuit and was seen walking across a patch of land that resembled the Moon in Tunganagar Main Road in Bengaluru.
The video was shot to highlight the condition of street roads in the city which had been full of crater-sized potholes and apathy of the civic authorities.
After the video went viral, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the city's civic body, responded to his visual complaint and fixed the potholes promptly.
"Under the supervision of our chief engineer S Prabhakar of RR Nagar, the potholes on Tunganagar main road in the northwest suburb have been filled up with mud, bitumen and asphalted by late afternoon, responding at the earliest to the artist's complaint through social media (Twitter) on Monday by uploading a video clip of him walking on them (potholes) dressed as an astronaut," the BBMP Spokesman LB Suresh had told the media.
"If you see my artwork whether it is the Street Moonwalk or Crocodile Installation, they have all been to highlight civic issues pertaining to a common man. Initially, they were to call attention to the pothole and manhole menace," Baadal explained.
Turning the conversation to contemporary times, during the coronavirus pandemic, he says, since we are in this for the long haul it is an attempt to make people aware and to educate them regarding the precautions that would ultimately help in the containment of the outbreak.
"I started my artwork in March as far as I can remember. The lockdown was imposed and I was terrified to go out but I could see people violating the COVID-19 guidelines. People were neither wearing masks in public places nor maintaining distance. It was very challenging for me to step out to paint but I wanted to use my art to caution people to follow rules. That was the intent behind this," the artist said.
He shared that he started painting in the vicinity of his house during the coronavirus-induced lockdown and then with the gradual lifting of the lockdown, he started visiting other areas including Kormangala, Bannerghatta Road and JC Road.
An alumnus of Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts in Mysuru, Baadal dons the creative hat and mixes it with topical issues to keep them significant and relatable.
Amongst his other street art and 3D paintings, what stands out includes the 'Hope Art' where a man has been painted seated on the balcony strumming his guitar, 'Wear Mask' wall art which features the Mask, the iconic character played by Jim Carrey and 'Mask Flag' which shows kid flagging the mask for victory.
Speaking about how he comes up with the characters and the process of choosing the theme, Baadal said, "The Moonwalk coincided with the buzz around Chandrayaan-2. So the idea is to catch attention with the current issues, that makes it self-explanatory. It is important to keep the art simple so that people can easily connect with it and take the lessons."
"Art is about conveying the message in the simplest way," added the artist.
After graduating from the academy, Baadal had worked with an advertising agency as a visualizer for three years before switching to a freelance career.
"What I think is cricketers and actors get more media attention than other creative people like a dancer or a painter. That's how differently the medium is perceived. All are talented individuals having their own medium of expression," Baadal told The Logical Indian.
"Another painter would have done some exceptional work but he might not be considered a successful artist because of the lack of recognition," he says accentuating the struggle faced by artists in India.