Calligraphy’s wizard extraordinary, Prof K C Janardhan is not hailed as a “maestro” without a reason. For, even if one were to discount all that he has contributed to the art of lettering, handwriting and calligraphy over the last many decades by virtue of his mellifluous rendering of the written words and his teaching, one cannot overlook his single-minded devotion to ensuring that the art form continues to attract the eyeballs.
Take his latest initiative for example, where he used Calligraphy as a bridge between the past and the future, helping showcase socio-cultural legacies and ensuring that they are curated for posterity. That in the process, the timeless art helped circumvent the restrictions imposed by the pandemic was, as the maestro says, “an added extra”!
It all started when a client approached the maestro to write a unique wedding invitation which would be reminiscent of the bygone era, that too in the traditional style to be served with a personal touch and warmth to the friends and relatives who were forced to live in the sanitized and touchless pandemic times. As the client originally hailed from a coastal town of Karnataka, they naturally wanted the local flavour and grandeur to be communicated through the exercise. The idea, as the Maestro proposed would be, him posing as the Mysore Royal Calligrapher from the Mysore Palace attired in a traditional “Kacche Panche, Jubba, Golden Shalya” and the traditional headgear called the “Peta”. He would trim his beard, tweak and twirl his moustache to give the finishing touches of Royal Calligrapher from the Vintage era to complete the picture. The physical, hand-written invitations, the Maestro enumerated, would be accompanied by a digital film that your show the entire process, transporting the recipients to the past.
The period setting – a writing table, a vintage Quill and a vintage Inkwell with an Elephant head, made from a precious alloy of five metals called panchaloha (which originally belonged to one of the Mysore Royal Family members as told by Maestro’s fan, who bequeathed it to J’s La Quill Museum) was painstakingly created with the minutest attention to details. And credit must be given to the excellent photo and videography done by Manasi Janardhan who heads the digital production team at J’s Quill Productions, a division of the J’s Quill Group which has many props and curios to shoot period films.
With arc lights and cameras around clicking away and video graphing from various angles, the maestro had to meticulously dip the quill into the Maharaja’s Inkpot and write the invitation with a lot of patience. The challenge was to keep his concentration and expressions intact to create the perfect impact, amidst all the hustle and bustle around him. Not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination as those of us who write will agree.
The invitation was finally signed by the parent couple of the bridegroom to add the final touch. Scrolls were printed to create the vintage effect. For touchless delivery through social media channels, the film was compressed to a digital invite of one and a half minutes with appropriate traditional south Indian score added for the effect.
“Prof Janardhan has rekindled the old charm of vintage classic writing in an excellent manner” said a calligraphy practitioner and aficionado. “As a matter of fact, what has impressed me the most, is the way he has used an original dip and write Quill (not the modern types with a nib attached) just like in the bygone centuries and has packaged it for the consumption of the young and old alike in the modern digital world.”
The film and the accompanying handwritten invite have created such a stir that many requests have started flooding in to create such pieces of writing by the Maestro donning different attires to suit the occasions and traditions across the country. Says Manasi Janardhan who directed the project, “I do not want to sound boastful, but it seems that our effort has led to the emergence of a new genre of Calligraphy led digital event invitations and we can look forward to many more new roles, that the Maestro would be slipping into to portray this artform, with the grandeur it needs to restore it to its pristine glory.”
You can take a look at the video here: