It was a blessed opportunity for sculptor Karamana Shashi when he tried his hands in matching his talent to that of his father. He was entrusted with a rare job to replicate the statue of the social reformer Mannath Padmanabhan that was originally crafted by his late father, to make a bigger one, that too after 52 long years.
A bronze bust of Mannathu Padmanabhan, founder of the Nair Service Society (NSS) was moulded by O.V. Achari 52 years back. It was installed at Perunna in Changanassery, the headquarters of NSS. To make a full size statue imbibing the bust, Karamana Shashi was appointed. The work is complete now.
Shashi moulded a seven feet high and one tonne weighing bronze statue of Mannathu. It took almost seven months to complete the job. Setting aside all his bodily ailments he fully dedicated himself to his creation. The moulding period was tough.
“The face and form of Mannathu, was carved in my mind through my father’s work. I had been automatically reached to the final touch like when a writer writes, the letters come flowing to his pen”. Shashi says. His wife Kusumam, also an artist, assisted him in the work. Suresh, Cheriya Murukan, Valiya Murukan, Rahul, Saseendran, Binoy, Radhakrishnan, Thaliyil Chellappan Asari etc. also assisted him.
Earlier, he had moulded many idols of Ganapathy, Sreekrishnan, Jesus Christ etc and statues of Karunakaran, Indira Gandhi, Rajeev Gandhi etc. “My father was my teacher. I used to watch him, when he moulded sculptures. From childhood I used to assist him. I have no formal learning in art”.
Not only in Kerala, but in other states like Tamilnadu, Madhya Pradesh too, he was invited to make statues. Statues of Mahatma Gandhi made by him have been installed in many places of India. Statues of Ayyankali, Chattambi Swamikal, Sreenarayana Guru, Kamaraj, M.G.R, Ambedkar etc. were also taking shape to his credit.
He associated with the works of different temples too. Temples like Pazhavangadi, Siva, Ayyappa, Muruka of Thiruvananthapuram city etc. are few among them. The huge idol of Ganapathy, alongside Medical College Road, Thiruvananthapuram is created by Shashi. He moulded the statue of Ambedkar for a first time venture in Kerala. His contributions are many.
Owing to the failure of two kidneys, kidney transplantation has taken place in him. One finger of leg was removed. But no disease could defeat him. His wife Kusumam stands as a strong pillar to him. The couple is running institutions like Shashi Arts and Reshma Hearing Care Centre etc. They have 3 children. Rekha Rani, Lekha Rani, Reshma.
Karamana Shashi was honored by Ambedkar award. But Shashi has a different voice on awards. “No attraction towards fame. If we work, we can live” and Shashi and Kusumam move to their busy schedule for the day.
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