Artistic Khajina – Baburao Painter
Born on 3 June 1890, Baburao Krishna Rao Meystri belonged to karveer Nagar. He was widely famous in entire Kolhapur; he was an eccentric artist. Baburao was an exceptional engineer and a compiler. He had the camera made for filming movies and was the one to introduce artificial lighting, trolley for cameras, three-dimensional characters, stenography, curtains and theatre decorations to filmmaking.
At the beginning of his career, he started a photography studio in Mumbai in 1908-09, soon after he designed and painted the curtains for plays for Keshavrao Bhosle and Bal Gandharv. Not only this he also created Costume and ornaments for the Gandharv Company. Making statues and sculptures was a regular thing which he was a master in.
In an age when there weren’t basic amenities available, Baburao Painter dared to make Movies, in 1917. He laid the foundation for the Maharashtra film company. Nearly 26 films were made by Baburao Painter. He made a movie on illiterate Farmers who were exploited by Moneylenders, called it “Savkari Pash”. Baburao painter became the master of Panchaal art during that time, without going to any art school or any professional guidance.
During the era of silent films, there was no way to tell the viewers about the movie through teasers or trailers. To top it off 30 per cent of the Indian population was illiterate and uneducated. The only way to form an opinion about the movie was through its poster. Keeping this in mind Baburao designed attractive posters for his Maharashtra film company’s production “Sihagarh”1923 and adorned the Novelty theatre at Grant Road with it, in such a way that half of Mumbai went just to look at the venue.
Amidst that crowd was the Principal of JJ School of Art, Solomon who later called Baburao and said “Meystri your posters are not born to rot out in the open in the cold winters and heavy rains. These belong in the art gallery of JJ school as an unparalleled example of Illustration.” JJ school then organised a special function to honour Baburao Painter’s work. Unfortunately, his Sihagarh posters were withered with time but his Sati Savitri, Kalyan Khajina, savkari Pash (all the movies from the silent film era 1921-1927) Shahir Ramjoshi, similar movie posters, “Usha” movie’s booklet can still be seen. All these movie posters are rare collector’s items today.
Besides Drawing/ Painting, Sculpturing and Filmmaking, his knowledge for mechanical engineering and types of equipment, was god gifted. In his studio, he designed easels from his imagination which held the boards for painting the drawings. A person could easily work sitting at one place in front of them. To adjust the height of the canvas he integrated a foot paddle design into the easel.
No painter at the time had easel with this kind of capability. No doubt Baburao was an outstanding mechanic.
When talkies came into existence, realising that sound has attacked visuals he retired from the Film Business. But before that, he gave great students like V. Shantaram, Baburao Pendharkar, Damle, Fatehlal, Chamber to the world of art and artists. He dedicated his entire life towards art and inventions. A man of many talents Baburao Painter died early morning on 16 January 1954.