Kollywood cinematographer Vijay A Chandhran used his isolation days in Madurai to turn a rooftop room into an artistic studio
MADURAI: A small rooftop room with freshly painted wall art in Madurai’s Reserve Line area peeps from a cluster of houses. The earthy clay-coloured 25X20 ft wall recently turned into a gigantic canvas for a novice trying his hand at Mandala art.
Against an azure summer sky as clouds float in candy cotton puffs bouncing over rooftops, the mural from a distance looks like a pretty rangoli in pure white. “I have tried the basic floral pattern as this is my first attempt and am thrilled with the result,” smiles Vijay A Chandhran, who is also a Kollywood cinematographer.
He painted from 7 am to 7 pm for three continuous days to finish this work of art. “I was so drawn to it that I even forgot to eat. The creative exercise upped my energy and concentration levels,” says the self-taught artist.
But for the lockdown, Vijay, popularly known as Madura Vijay in tinsel world, would perhaps not have discovered his skill with the brush. “Prior to this, I have never held a colour pencil or paintbrush in my hand nor have I tried my hand at drawing,” says the 28-year-old, happily posing against his art work.
A sudden urge to do something different, two days of thinking hard and visualising, and four days to paint the wall and complete the drawing: “I am amazed at the output,” he says and adds, “This is what three weeks of isolation in my parents’ house did to me!”
Vijay, who has been working as a cameraperson in Kollywood for last seven years, recently worked in Dhanush’s upcoming action-thriller Jagame Thanthiram and also finished his work for the Netflix web series, Bahubali Before The Beginning. With no projects in hand till November, he returned to his hometown Madurai last month. The uncertainty and boredom made him realise he needed something more than just home food to tide over long hours within four walls.
“While in Chennai, I often visited a production designer who is also a trained Mandala artist. Watching her at work radiated positive vibes,” says Vijay. So, a morning’s motivation pushed him to purchase an assortment of emulsified paint.
But there was a problem — the lack of creative space in his house. To start his new endeavour, he went house hunting and finally located a one-room unit on a terrace. “It looked perfect for an artistic outlet,” says Vijay, “as I could happily do my quarantine murals here and also use the room as a creative studio for myself and my bunch of close friends.”
With his new found love for drawing, Vijay now plans to paint the other walls, both outside and inside. “I have already decided on the subject — the Buddha sitting on a lotus in dhyana asana — for the exterior and the rest is a concept in progress,” he says. Meanwhile, his friends have helped him with minimalist interior decoration. “It is all lit up with mirchi lights at night if we meet up for singing, dancing, or jamming,” he says. Mostly, he says, they meet during the day for discussions and writing scripts and lyrics.
The team is working on a two-part video titled Namma Madurai 2.0. The first edition, that was recently released, is a compilation of visuals (still and motion) from 10 local leading photographers that highlight the defining factors of the temple town in multiple hues — it’s people, landmarks, food, markets, streets, songs and slang. “It is fast-paced and boisterous like the city but part two will be a post-lockdown sober recollection of city images,” says Vijay. And his new studio has all the elements to inspire.
He says along with his friends, all of whom have a passion for the arts, he is trying to keep the creativity alive in a systematic way. “To remain stress free and do things of your choice in the middle of a pandemic is a luxury.”