Author : Shashank Khasgiwale

Category : Art

Cherial – The Art Aisle

In a world full of artistic colors, art is visible at different places in
diverse forms. What might halt our gaze where, we remain unaware,
sometimes it’s a friend’s house that we stare at in awe, other times
we applaud creatively used artistic props in films. Basically, if you care
to observe, art is everywhere.

Although films are actor-director centric, there are various other factors
that shape your feature film taking it to an all new level. A film is often written
by a writer and is driven by the director. As visionaries, the director blends
his vision with the story rewarding the audience with a gripping cocktail.
In cases such as these, props play a significant role altogether. Cherial Mask
making is one of the lost but still sought after art. Masks created with
different designs give the film an all-new persona.

Let’s shed some light on the Cherial Mask Making Art.

It’s a traditional art form which got recognition in 1976. This art was founded in a
small village named Cherial, Telangana. Every art form in Telangana has its name
after the place it originated in. Cherial scroll painting is a stylized version of Nakashi
art. Cherial scroll painting is an art of mask making, where a few characters from the
scroll were converted into a mask - characters like tiger, cow, man, women, bandit
could be crafted as a Cherial mask. The Cherial mask making processes are simplified
into six foldings - Sculpting, Plastering, Bandaging, Smoothening, and Colouring. It is
the art form which was used for storytelling. It had stories from Indian epics like
“Ramayana”, “Mahabharata” etc. The storytelling back then was one of the best ways
to live and feel the epics. In old times, grandparents used to tell these stories to their
children, and children also used to enjoy those epic stories. But as the count of movies
and theatres increased, storytelling became a myth. No one was interested in the
storytelling anymore and that obstruction led this beautiful art in the way of demise.
Worshippers of this wonderful art are very difficult to find in this age. There are only 12 or 13 artists, who still believe, practice and teach the Cherial Mask art.

Luckily, we came across a Cherial Mask Making Workshop, organized by “Heart for Art”, a
public trust based in Pune. Their mission is to ensure a sustainable business platform for the
local artisans and to revive the many beautiful dying art forms. When we reached the venue,
it was totally unlike of what other art galleries would be. It held in the basement of under construction building, surrounded by the beautiful trees, it felt really fresh. There, we met a very talented Cherial artist, Mr. Dhanaloka Saikiran Verma, son of state award winners D. Nageshwar and D. Padma. He belongs to the Rangareddy district in Telangana. Highly qualified in his area, he studied Fine Arts at Venkateshwara College of fine arts, Madhavpur.
He then decided to go with his family tradition legacy, i.e., Cherial Scroll Paintings and Mask Making. Now he conducts the workshop of Cherial Mask Making, which he organizes with NGOs across the country, and also teaches the same art at various schools. He also takes Cherial Painting and drawing classes to pass on his incredible wisdom to other passionate students. As he is native Telangana artist, and only knows his native language, he faced many language-related problems throughout his journey. But he never gave up and learned to speak Hindi and English languages to overcome the problems.

It was an honour for Cast India to come across someone who’s still carrying the art’s legacy forward. 

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