It was a festive mood at the one-bedroom Bird Barrack military quarters on Dickenson Road in Bengaluru. Its occupant 30-year-old Renjith C, a Sepoy with the Indian Army, was probably on Cloud 9 as he was all set to meet his idol former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam.
Hailing from Thalavoor village in Pathanapuram thaluk of Kerala’s Kollam district, Renjith is currently posted as a Sepoy in Kerala and Karnataka Sub-Area Command in Bengaluru.
Son of Chandrashekharan Pillai, a farmer, Renjith is a gifted artist right from his school days. “I used to imagine a lot like any child during while I was in the school. The walls of our small house acted as the canvass and for want of space at times I didn’t even spare the ceiling. I got good encouragement from parents and teachers initially and later from my seniors in the Army,” says Renjith, during a cleared interaction with Mathrubhumi.
His early paintings were pencil sketches and later he graduated to oil paints. “Painting is a passion for me. After para jumps I love painting the most. I would want to help the society through my paintings. I give free tuitions in painting to a few children now. Once I retire from Army, I will probably start a painting school,” says Renjith, who has done around 17 para jumps so far.
In the Army for the last 12 years, Renjith was in the midst of conducting a five-day solo painting exhibition christened ‘Awakening,’ when this Correspondent met him.
The exhibition was inaugurated by six times ‘Mr India’ title winner M Kamaraj at Bengaluru’s famous Venkatappa Art Gallery on June 10. It carries the theme: ‘Say no to killing of animals, especially cows.’
“Being an animal lover and a vegetarian, I feel cows maintain the balance of the Mother Earth. Its milk is the most precious thing one can get after our own mother’s milk. Hence, through the exhibition I want to create awareness on cows and their benefits,” says the solider.
He hopes to buy a cow for a poor farmer from the proceeds of the exhibition. In addition to his paintings on cows, the exhibition also has some general works of Renjith. One of the exhibits, a painting of Dr Kalam playing the veena, has already gone viral on social media sites, with many commenting it on par with a photograph.
“It took eight months for me to complete the painting of Kalam Sir. I used to wake up early morning and even sit through the night completing it. I have named the painting as ‘Music behind the missile hands.’ I am thrilled that he has granted me some time to meet him today,” says Renjith. He roped in Kerala’s famous artist Rajendran, who has carved a frame (37 x 40 inches) out of teak wood for the painting.
Speaking to Mathrubhumi, the artist’s childhood friend Mukesh Kumar says that Renjith always was a big dreamer.
“He shifted to oil painting when he was round 10 years old. His love and respect for cows is known to all of us. He is an inspiring soul to all his friends,” says Mukesh, a sales tax practitioner in Kottarakkara.
Married to Soumya Unnithan, Renjith is recently blessed with a baby girl, Ameya, who is around three months old.