Kolkata: When you enter the Salt Lake Stadium through the main gate, a huge statue with two legs, a couple of footballs and a globe placed on the hips is the overwhelming sight. This co-incidentally is a piece of art that was imagined by the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee herself, and like her political policies, this has been a topic of hot discussion since it was unveiled.
But, walk in through the gate on the day of the final, October 28, and the road leading up to the entrance to the massive structure that is the Yuba Bharati Kirangan will be decorated with a lot of colours in the form of the inimitable - ‘alpona’, a very Bengali version of what the much spoken about and celebrated ‘Grafiti’ culture.
Art work of such a grand and expansive nature is not at all the easiest thing to put in place and executing the plan takes a lot of work, and of course man power. Over 200 students from various art colleges in West Bengal are working overtime and racing the clock to put this project, the brainchild of the state government into place.
“We started working on the project to beautify the entrance of the stadium as a way of paying tribute to FIFA and the World Cup itself. We have loved every game that has been played at the Salt Lake Stadium and we are very proud of the moment,” said Anirban Das, one of the art students who has been entrusted with the job of overlooking the whole project. Anirban, studied art at the Government College of Art and Craft, added that he was proud to be part of such a project, but agreed the task is daunting and would need a lot of effort to complete.
The project began on the evening of October 25, and according one of those working hard to emulate the designs from paper onto the roads inside the stadium premises said they had already worked all through the night and would happily repeat that to achieve their target. Tanay, one of the volunteers and an artist by his own his admission further added, that the plans for the paintings were not dependent on the teams who had made it through to the final. “Even if Brazil were playing the final, the designs or the colour patterns would not have changed.”
When quizzed about the statue at the gate, the artist, like many other in the city wasn’t particularly happy about it. “It seems to have been constructed rather hastily. The job of an artist should be left to the artists,” he adds before getting back to a patch of orange that he was furiously working on. “The design of the alpona has been done by Anirban. All the small designs that make up the bigger picture was visualised by him. There have some changes we have been forced to make from the original plan. But nothing to disturb the main structure of the design,” added Zaffar Hussain, a student of painting from the Government College of Art and Craft.
Dinesh Poddar, a designer of lights and sets in the city, who has worked on shows which have seen the likes of Mithun Chakraborty perform at the stadium, was amazed at the kind of work being done and how beautiful it looked.