It’s time to turn a new page. After battling the pandemic, it’s time to move on. Those who design calendars that go beyond images of gods, landscapes and pretty photos are surprised by the demand for different desk calendars. Calendar girls and guys with toned bodies have given way to legendary Malayalam cinema villains, famous language authors, Kerala art forms, storytelling traditions, and more. From artists and architects to self-taught artists and photographers design calendars with a difference.
Villains and politics
Artist Vishnu Madhav alias Pencilashan has designed two themed calendars. One, called ‘Priyapetta Super Villains in Malayalam Cinema’, revives immortal negative characters from the seventies. Starting with the caricatures of the Bhaskara Patelar of Mammootty (Vidheyan) and the Narendran of Mohanlal (Manjil Virinja Pookal), there are caricatures of Anappara Achamma from Philomina (Godfather), Babu Antony as “gang leader” (Douthyam), Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair as a wizard in My dear Kuttichathan, Malavika from KPAC Lalitha (Adyathe Kanmani), John Honayi of Rizabawa (In Harihar Nagar) etc Two characters have been illustrated on each sheet of the calendar, which bears the name of the character, the film, the actor and the year the film was released.
“As most of the cartoons on my Instagram page are based on politics, the second theme is political satire. It’s called ‘The Great Indian Boast (Thallu), I was there calendar. These are the lofty and outlandish claims made by political leaders,” says Vishnu.
It was based each month on important historical events. March shows the Dandi walk. When Mahatma Gandhi reaches the seaside, the leader is already there sucking on a crystal of salt. In May, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climb Mount Everest. When they are about to reach the top, the leader is there at the top to lend a hand. Jumping centuries and countries, he is there during great historical moments. Another shows the leader working hard to build the pyramids in Egypt while yet another month shows him posing for a statue in Harappa.
National holidays and days dedicated to important events have been highlighted at the bottom of each leaflet. The calendars are available at www.comicshaap.in.
For Rajisha K Rajan, drawing was a hobby she indulged in occasionally. During the March 2020 lockdown, she started working from home and that’s when she started drawing portraits. As her portraits were widely appreciated, the former technician of the Thiruvananthapuram Technopark designed a calendar last year in tune with Malayalam film music.
Since she was working from her home in Kannur, she had time to polish her sketches. The schedule included his favorite singers as well as greats like KJ Yesudas, V Dakshinamoorthy and P Bhaskaran. “Title ‘Paattu Chembakangal’ (Musical Flowers), each page contained a portrait of a musician and a few lines of a popular song he/she had performed, composed or written. I was on a high when musicians like KS Chithra, Bijibal, Nithya Mammen and Sithara Krishnakumar shared it on their Facebook pages,” recalls Rajisha, now a resident of Simla, Himachal Pradesh.
Tribute to writers
As the calendars were sold out and she was only able to put them on sale in January, she made a calendar this year called “Akshara Nakshatrangal” (literary stars) which celebrates Malayalam authors. Starting with the sketch of KR Meera in January, she continues to draw portraits of Benyamin, Sara Joseph, VJ James, Priya AS, E Santhosh Kumar and S Hareesh.
“It was a friend who asked me if I could do one on the authors. This is how this calendar was created. Now I have become a full time artist. Simla is the best place for that!” After the authors shared it on their Facebook and Instagram pages, Rajisha received several calls for her calendars. The self-taught artist can be contacted at 7249946356.
Architect Indu Sathyendran desk calendar depicts major performing arts unique to Kerala such as Kathakali, Koodiyattam, Ottanthullal, Mohiniyattam, Pulikali, Theyyam etc. “It’s called ‘Kerala Kala’ (the art of Kerala). The cover of the calendar contains a one-line description of the art form,” says Indu. Each image was drawn and painted by Indu before being given for printing. Email [email protected] or message on Instagram (@quirkyi) or Facebook.
In the case of photographer Dilip Nair, it was his desire for an ecological and recyclable calendar that motivated him to design table calendars that could be used as postcards. “I used to feel sorry for the pages that were thrown away as soon as the month or year was up. This is how I created my calendar which can also be used as a postcard,” he says.
Minimalism is the theme of her calendar. Beautifully composed photographs that he clicked mostly in Kerala form one half of each sheet while the other has a blank space with the calendar below. “Once that month is over, you can tear the calendar along the dotted lines and it becomes a postcard,” says Dilip.
Made from recycled paper, the 12 sheets are mounted on a wooden easel made from recycled packing wood. Dilip’s calendars are sold out.
Meanwhile, a timeline from the Palakkad chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) highlights how the culturally rich district influenced 12 great authors such as MT Vasudevan Nair, OV Vijayan, Anita Nair, Mundoor Krishnankutty, Shashi Tharoor, VKN, Malayattoor Ramakrishnan and so on. “It’s called ‘Palakkad: Granary of Tales’ and is about the tradition of Palakkad tales in literature… how Palakkad inspired the works of writers and how the imagination of writers informs our understanding of the place .
“The calendar will feature 12 works of fiction through illustrations, small blocks of text taken from the work and an image of the writer,” says chapter organizer Arun Narayanan. Calendars can be obtained from the INTACH Palakkad chapter.