This Mumbai Man Makes Portraits Of Famous People Using His Typewriter


    Inside an 80-year old building in Dadar, Chandrakant Bhide has been creating art from his lovely typewriter. The typewriter turned 50 this June, and it stands humbly on Mr Bhide’s desk, with its history, art, and everything in between.

    Making Art, One Key At A Time

    Chandrakant Bhide, all of 72-years-old aspired to be an artist. However, he ended up in a Government office just like his father {as a stenographer}.

    After a myriad of jobs in typing, and Bhide realised his typing speed was better than others, a skill that earned him a reputation in the Union Bank of India where he served almost 30 years. Though his artistic instinct never really extinguished – and one fine day, he decided to play around with his typewriter. How does he do these portraits? With his art weapon, the keys on the typewriter.

    He mainly uses about five alphabets and symbols off the keyboard – @, &, “, W, and the humble /. Armed with these, scenes, features and characters are created.

    The Common Man

    Interestingly, R.K. Laxman {with whom Bhide shared a warm and loving equation},  was the inspiration behind the “common man” portraits.

    Over the last few decades, Bhide has created almost 35 or so portraits – all a homage to people he adores or looks up to. There’s Amitabh Bachan, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Lata Mangeshkar and his favourite, a portrait of Dilip Kumar.

    Every portrait takes at least four to five hours to be completed. The process is as complicated and strenuous as it looks simple. To create shadows, there’s overlapping of the ‘_’ key, pages are turned and twisted to get consistency. With 15 minutes of ferocious typing {as the typewriter rod needs to be held and loaded}, a portrait is generally completed over a period of endless chai and pakoda breaks.

    Through our one-hour-long conversation, the passion in his voice and work never faltered. With over 11 exhibitions, the first one inaugurated by celebrated cartoonist Mario Miranda, Bhide carved his own niche in the art community.

    So, We’re Saying...

    This Mr Bhide’s passion project, and something he has been doing for decades. You can’t buy the portraits, or get them customised. But you can walk into Bhide’s cosy house in Dadar, spend an afternoon chatting with him and go through his lovely portraits. Perhaps he’ll make something for you?

    If you’re around, you can call him up on 2438 0560.