Six years ago, Sarath Babu, a thirdgeneration entrepreneur from Hyderabad chanced upon a 700-year-old log of teakwood in Myanmar. Being in the teak business for nearly four decades, he had an eye for the best logs which are usually repurposed for mega yachts sold to the super-rich of the West. “I saw a single piece of wood that weighed more than seven tons and was over 20 feet long. I thought to myself that I needed to ensure this piece is saved, as future generations would not be able to see such magnificent logs anymore,” he recalls.
What followed was one-and-a-half years of intense negotiations. The Myanmar government passed a rule banning the export of big logs, and Babu appealed to their parliament, and eventually got the permission to import the log to India as an exception, as he wanted to transform reclining position under the hood of the divine snake, Sheshnag, with 84 deities paying tribute to the God. It portrays his divinity as depicted in the sixth shloka from the 11th adhyaya of the Gita, which shows the deity at his calmest. Gowd, who is famous in the Telugu states for his interpretation of Indian mythology says that he worked on the sketches for almost five years. “The minute I saw the log, I noticed there was a natural dip in the middle which lent itself to the reclining posture of Vishnu.”
An American billionaire too had his eye on the log, but Covid gave Babu the opportunity to win the bid. He reached out to artist Giridhar Gowd to create a sketch for the log with only one stipulation: that it should be an interpretation of Indian mythology. An easy ask as Gowd is reputed for his fantastic recreations from the lexicon of Indian Gods.
In the meantime, Babu hired a team of sculptors who started the initial carving of the log in Myanmar. He says, “I made countless trips to the country, and monitored them on CCTV cameras to ensure that the work was started. Wood is the toughest medium to work on as it is extremely sensitive and once chipped off, it cannot be reworked.”
Babu, who works extensively on traditional carving, put his heart into the project. “People questioned me why I was doing it, as it cost years of work and efforts. The answer is that I believe God himself has willed this. We went to Ramappa Temple in Warangal to study the style of temple jewelry so we could make it authentically. We had to follow traditional crafts even for sanding so that no marks were visible,” he states.
The sculpture itself is spell-binding. Vishnu is in a sleeping postion without his weapons (Sudarshana and Kaumodaki) while 84 gods and goddesses pay obeisance to him. Every aspect of the sculpture, from the scales of the coiled snake to the folds of the dhoti and the stalks and petals of the lotus appear real, with craftsmanship that borders on virtuosity.
Gowd created four designs and the
Babu is now a satisfied man. “I have no plans of selling this. I only want to ensure
NICKNAMED LORD OF THE LOGS, THIS WOODEN ARTEFACT OF LORD VISHNU has an interesting story that is as exciting as the sculpture itself
Movies in cinemas this month
A year remains incomplete without a Rajinikanth release. Nelson writes and directs this bigbudget action comedy about a jailer who learns of a gang’s plan to rescue their leader from prison. The film has a stunner supporting cast inclusive of Jackie Shroff, Shiva Rajkumar, Ramya Krishnan, Sunil, Nagendra Babu, Yogi Babu, Tamannah and the legendary Mohanlal. Mounted on a budget of Rs 200 crores, the film is the movie event of the year.
Location: The cinemas
Megastar Chiranjeevi returns to the big-screen after delivering his first major hit in the form of Waltair Veerayya in January. Co-starring Keerthy Suresh and Tamannah, the film is an official remake of the 2015 Tamil hit Vedalam starring Ajith Kumar, Lakshmi Menon and Shruti Hassan. The film revolves around a taxi driver and his sister who arrive in Kolkata to focus on the latter’s education. Meher Ramesh returns behind the camera after a decade-long hiatus post Shadow and Shakti
Date: 11th August
Location: The cinemas
The sequel to the 2012 sleeper blockbuster, Akshay Kumar stars in the role of Lord Shiva, this time in a tale about a devotee who seeks redemption. The protagonist is portrayed by Pankaj Tripathi, while the script is written and directed by Marathi filmmaker Amit Rai. The film is a production by Kumar, Vipul D. Shah, Rajesh Bahl and Ashwin Varde. Yami Gautam and Govind Namdev co-star as well.