COVID Creative Events, Projects / May 3, 2021

‘Vanity Fair’ 26 August 1897

The following aspects of the character of Ranjitsinhji and the events in his life, may have a bearing on his caricature by Leslie Ward or ‘Spy’.

1. On a perusal of a few photographs available to us and the biographical material collated during this heritage project, it appears that Ranjitsinhji dressed elegantly both on and off the field.

2. He was blessed with an innate talent for sports. Even though he was asthmatic, he played strenuous sports like football and rugby and excelled in cricket. This quality helped him to a great extent in diminishing/overcoming the racial bias against him.

3. The subterfuge which led to his disinheritance, resulted in his staying for a long duration in England. This, we feel, resulted in his being at home in that country which helped in diminishing the racial bias against him.

4. We feel that racial discrimination and the social mores prevailing at that time, resulted in his not being able to successfully conclude his courtship of Ms Edith Barrisow. This perhaps led to the unfortunate episode of an illegitimate child.

5. As a ruler, we feel that he was somewhat of a visionary who had the capacity to administer/introduce reform. He implemented reforms in the princely state of Nawanagar and was a representative from India in the League of Nations. He advocated the establishment of an organization to represent Indian princes.

It is mentioned in the material gathered by our project, that ‘Spy’ could not secure an appointment with Ranjitsinhji and, therefore, observed him on the cricket ground before making his sketch. This and his immense popularity as a cricketer, is probably  the reason for sketching Ranjitsinhji in cricketing attire.

With reference to the caricature of Ranjitsinhji we would like to state as under:

1. The caricature of Ranjitsinhji is close to his actual self. There is very little exaggeration/distortion (for want of better words). His elegant attire (note billowing silk shirt) and his slender form, have both been beautifully captured and accentuated. He had a dark complexion but to us it appears that his skin tone in the caricature is depicted comparably lighter in shade than it seems to have been in real life.

2. His posture is totally relaxed and he is at ease in his stance as also in the manner in which he is shown holding the bat. One is reminded of the manner in which a veteran soldier carries his weapon and equipment. Most excellent sports persons have this posture.

However, is the right heel raised? If it is so, we are intrigued. One would not do so in a relaxed posture. Is there some message from the artist?

3. It appears that he expects to very shortly walk onto the field as he is wearing his left batting gloves.

4. We were drawn to his eyes- he is intently watching something (probably the game in progress). His concentration is total, as if he is concentrating on the cricket ball or on the bowler’s hand at the time of release of the ball.

At the same time, however, there is also a faraway look in his eyes. A pleasant expression is also noticeable on his face. Perhaps, while watching the game he is also thinking about Ms Edith Barrisow? It is mentioned in the autobiographical material provided in ‘Vanity Fair’ that the courtship was intense when he was at the peak of his cricketing career. Perhaps the faraway look also implies the visionary in him!

5. The caricature appears to be bereft of racial bias. 

–  By Amar P. Chandra with Suman Chandra nee Tandon

After graduation Amar passed out from Jamshedpur’s XLRI, or Xavier School of Management founded in 1949.

In 1969, he joined a nationalised bank. During his banking service. He worked all over India including Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, New Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, Himachal Pradesh and Orissa. He retired from active service as Deputy General Manager in 2008. 

Amar’s hobbies and interests are shooting (at the National level), reading, sports and travelling. He is settled with his wife in in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

Suman Tandon CHANDRA

Suman hails from a family based in Allahabad. After graduating from the University of Allahabad, she also did a degree in Law from Lucknow University.

Suman joined the UCO Bank. As an Officer, she was stationed in various parts of the country such as Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, New Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal. 

She is married to Amar Peter Chandra and they are both presently settled at Bhopal.

Suman loves the outdoors and was a President’s Guide while in school. Her hobbies and interests include: music, reading and traveling

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