Chippy Gangjee (May 2000)
His real name is Mohammed Irshad Hussain Faizullah Gangjee. Better known as Chippy Gangjee. He says, "Chippy's a lot easier on the brain and the tongue," and follows it up with a hearty laugh that must truly be a Chippy-special. When you bring onto the real-life stage a dramatis persona like Chippy, you can expect variety and excitement. And Chippy is all that. A Calcutta-born and bred person, Chippy came to Bangalore 15 years ago as a "corporate man", as Senior Regional Manager of an organization called Hilton Rubbers. Having set them up in about 4 years, he later decided, "If I had to work for a fool, the only fool would have to be myself". And so, the first brush stroke of the "Chippy saga" was smeared onto the vast canvas of Bangalore's art & culture.
Painting was something he had always done. "I used to supplement my pocket money by painting in Calcutta," he says. Friends always coaxed him to exhibit his paintings. Eventually, a broken left leg led to Chippy's first painting exhibition in which he sold 45 of the 47 that were on display. Besides art, he's also a prolific writer. "I'm a foodie", he says, referring to his weekly column in a local newspaper, which is about food and tickling taste buds. "I write on everything you can think of - from theatre to art, dance, and music. Anything cultural. I'm also a human resources development trainer," explains Chippy, a bachelor and a remarkable personality, indeed.
And how often does he paint? "I get fidgety if I don't paint everyday," he says. Though he hasn't shown himself around for some time, he's working on an exhibition called "Windows, Doors, Walls and Stairs" but can't say when the show will be on the road. And the medium that he works with? Acrylics, water color, pencils, anything. "I'm an artist and I am capable of working with any medium. So why should I stay with any one medium? These days the trend is to move away from the concept of one-medium-one-style and artists are beginning to work with different mediums," he adds.
Besides exhibiting his own work, which would be once every two months, promoting art in the city is his passion. He believes that there's loads of talent in the city that may never see the light of day unless artists like him come forward to help fellow artists. He also strongly believes in what he calls "affordable art". A belief based on the fact that there's a huge population in the country who understand and appreciate art, but no big bucks to buy. "It should hang in somebody's home and just not sit around in some studio," advises Chippy, looking you straight in the eye to get the message across.
Chippy Gangjee is a notable figure in the city's cultural scene. For a person who (not occasionally, but regularly) set Calcutta's famous Park Street on fire, Bangalore would be the "perfect wicket to bat on". Talking to Chippy is great fun, which is interspersed by his robust laugh, best described by the legendary humorist P.G. Wodehouse in one of his stories, "A lion just roared at me."