Hutansh Verma is one of those few people or perhaps the only artist in India who expresses the deep love and gratitude he holds for martyrs and their families through his paintings. His paintings famously known as ‘Portraits of Patriots’ are simply the way of expressing the deep connection he feels for Indian Armed Forces martyrs through colours. Colours which he chooses carefully.
Grey along with orange, white,green which are actually the colours of our Tiranga. These paintings have power to heal and reintroduce our martyrs in new light,in new colours.
He has made portrait paintings of Captain Vikram Batra, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Captain Manoj Pandey, Captain Vijyant Thapar, Captain Pawan Kumar, Captain tushar Mahajan and many more. His one painting on capture of Tololing by 2 Raj Rif is especially very famous. But he makes most of his paintings only in one pattern using fixed colours.
He shared with me
“I make portraits of the martyrs only in one pattern. I always use black and white colour to portray a shaheed because these two are the only true colours. The shaheeds are not with us,they have lost their lives for nation but in the process immortalised themselves. So I feel no other colours than Black and white can justify that immortalisation. I attach their faces to Tiranga in the background. I always bring happy expression on the martyrs faces because I want their families to remember only the smiling faces of their lads as their last memories.”
When he started this unique initiative he did not know anything about Army life and Army personnel. He was a simple young civilian man who knew nothing about the glorious wars Indian soldiers have won or the sacrifices they make daily on borders. It was his father who actually acted as a catalyst and instigated the fire which is now lighting in martyrs houses.
Hutans said to me
” I loved making paintings. One day I was sitting with my father before TV and we heard the news of a soldier getting martyred in Kashmir. Suddenly My father said you make beautiful paintings.You are an artist why don’t you make paintings of martyrs and gift it it to their family members it will make them happy. That time just to make him happy I gave it a thought. “
Initially it was really difficult. He knew nothing about Army but he started learning about it. He learnt about all the wars India has fought,about regiments,units,soldiers,martyrs and more. More he knew,more he was intrigued but the passion was still lacking. Like most usual youngsters he was more concerned about making a decent livelihood,a career and support his family. He belonged to a humble background but destiny had other plans for him. In September 2014 he lost his father due to multiple organ failure,he was devastated but it was when he could truly understood the pain of losing someone. He says
“I was shattered but I also realised how tough it must be for families losing their young sons,brothers and husbands who went away untimely when I was not able to cope with the grief of losing my ailing father. I completed my first portrait of Captain Vijyant Thapar and gifted it to his parent a year later. Initially I thought of couriering it to them but eventually I decided upon meeting them personally and pay my tributes.They were overwhelmed and said that it was like seeing their son in person “
Till now Hutansh has made 64 paintings and gifted personally to the families of martyrs. the creative process of 24-40 hours includes selecting photographs to create the portraits and is heart wrenching. He also feels a deep connection with the particular martyr during that process as if they are alive and interacting with him,providing instructions. Especially painting of Captain pawan Kumar has been overly emotional for him because he was younger than Hutansh and could have chose to lead the life of comfort. Many a times he saw him in his dreams. This makes the process very spiritual for him.
When I asked him about the finances involved Hutansh told me there has been time when he was in serious financial constraints but eventually he had been successful in completing the paintings and gifting to various martyrs families,He has self financed his travel to many places like Delhi, Jammu, Punjab, Bengaluru, Bikaner, Gurdaspur, Agra, North East etc and he believes the martyrs themselves arrange finances for him miraculously. Many a times he thought about visiting a place but would be delaying because of finances that out of the blue he received donations or other financial help from people unknown. Today he teaches art in ‘Manav Rachna International School Delhi’ and financial conditions are far better than before.
His wife Ritika Verma also accompanies him to martyrs houses. She has been a strong pillar of support. Initially, when they got married in 2015,Ritka could not understand Hutansh passion but once he took her along with to meet a martyr soldier’s house she felt so nice that now she insists on accompanying every time. His mother and brother also support his endeavour. In fact it won’t be wrong if I say the entire Verma family has found solace and purpose in Hutansh passion. Their daily discussions over family dinner and lunches revolve around martyr families and his paintings which I feel is so amazing. Today he also receives many orders from Indian Army itself, various units,brigades contact him for making the portraits of their shaheeds. He has also been complimented by the then Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat who recognised him instantly along with admirers like John Abraham,Arjun Rampal, Salman Khan, late Irrfan khan and more.
When I complimented him about his work at the end he said
“Swapnil Ma’am it was not easy. I had many priorities and constraints. After my father’s death I should had ideally been stopped painting. Many a times I struggled to pick the brush but today I believe had it not been for the portraits of the patriots I would have never been painting. It is because of the martyrs that colours come out of my brush. I am thankful for that.”
If you want to connect with him or keep track of his latest work. You can ping him on these social media platform.
Some pictures with martyrs families
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