Meet Sheela 'Charu' Gupte (nee Tipnis) an artist, who worked in the Air-India Art Studio during the 1970s.
The Air-India offices were then at the Bank of India building at Flora Fountain (Hutatma Chowk). She recalls the move to the iconic Air-India building at Nariman Point in 1971, and how deserted and lonely the walk was then to the office from Churchgate Station. The Art Studio occupied the pride of place in the skyscraper at one of the topmost floors, with plenty of natural light and a great view of the city.
Charu regaled me with stories of the evolution of the Maharajah, and how he was at first a slim and tall character, and over time got shorter, and a little portlier. Also, how his persona evolved. Earlier his eyes were shown open but later were always seen closed or looking downwards, as though he is humbly welcoming the real maharajah, the passenger, on board his flying carpet. In the beginning, his palms were not joined together although he was in the bowing pose. The right hand was bent, placed midriff, and left hand was to his side. It was only in the early 2000's that the pose was changed to a 'namaste' one.
Among numerous designs for Air-India, Charu recalls drawing and re-drawing several of the coasters that were issued in the late 1970s in a new design (Type 4.1).
Charu retired as the AGM, Advertising and Special Promotions, Air-India. She has many more photographs of her stint in the Art Studio, and other colleagues she worked with there, and I am hoping that I will get an opportunity to add them to the web-site soon.
Charu at work in the Air-India Art Studio c. late-1970s, with her artists material all around her. She is working on a brochure on How to tie a turban, and you can see the open books being used as reference material. Also on the drawing board, you can see sketches of the coaster designs she has been working on.
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