The Statue of Unity was unveiled on 31st October 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, overlooking the Sardar Sarovar Dam. The 182-metre sculpture is built to commemorate the life of Sardar Patel who as the country’s first deputy prime minister and home minister played a crucial role in integrating the princely states into the country after the 1947 partition and spreading the message of unity. It was designed by the renowned Ram Vanji Sutar.
Ram Vanji Sutar is a distinguished Indian sculptor. His monumental career has spanned for over sixty years, creating over fifty monumental breath-taking sculptures. He was awarded the Padma Shri in the year 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2016 by the Government of India for contributions to the field of sculpting. He specialises in bronze works. His colossal sculptures retain have been applauded and appreciated all over the world and this is mostly because of how real they look.
The sculptor was born on the 19th of February in 1925. He was born into a poor family belonging the village Gondur situated in the Dhule district of Maharashtra. During the start of his career, he sought tutelage under Shriram Krishna Joshi, who later encouraged him to enrol into the Sir J.J. School of Art in Bombay.
He completed his course in 1953 earning a Diploma in Sculpting. He not only passed but came out in flying colours by topped his class and winning the distinguished Mayo Gold medal for modelling.
He worked as a modeller with theDepartment of Archaeology in the Aurangabad division. His services were used for the restoration work of the sculptures at the Ajanta and Ellora Caves. He was very successful in many in this line of work. He worked there from 1954-1958. He then joined the Department of Audio-Visual Publicity under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting at the New Delhi Branch as a Technical Assistant (Model). He worked in the Exhibition Division. In 1959 he left his well-paying government job to chase his passion. He hoped to be a professional sculptor and it is true that hard work makes dreams come true.
He first began his freelance sculpting career by working on two sculptures for the main gate of the Agriculture Fair that was to happen in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. The first success he saw in the field was in the form of a 45 feet Chambal Symbolic monument at the scenic Gandhi Sagar Dam in the midst of the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh. It was a gigantic masterpiece which was monolithic. It represented mother Chambal with her two progeny- Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was so impressed with the masterful work that he immediately commissioned him to make a 50 feet high bronze monument to be situated near the Bhakra Dam commemorating the theme of the Triumph of Labour. This work was unfortunately left incomplete due to shortage of funds.
His notable works include the 20 feet high of Goddesses Ganga and the Yamuna at the Rose Garden in Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh, Punjab respectively.
His most well-known works include the bust of the father of the nation. Mahatma Gandhi. This was an instantaneous success and copies were made to present to countries worldwide. This country includes England, Argentina, Barbados, France, Italy, Russia, and Malaysia where they were displayed during the Mahatma Gandhi Centenary Celebrations. The sculpture has been installed in over one hundred fifty countries. The largest copy yet was created for the International Trade Fair of Asia in 1972 which has now been permanently installed at the Pragati Maidan in New Delhi.
The 17 feet high Mahatma Gandhi statues in meditation pose installed at the Parliament House, New Delhi and at Gandhinagar, Gujarat are also this notable artist’s work. He also carved a 13 feet high statue of Mahatma Gandhi with Harijan children for Gandhi Smriti in Delhi, Sandur in Bangalore, and Delhi Public School, Noida.
The 21-feet high Equestrian sculpture of Maharaja Ranjit Singh installed in Amritsar, the 10-feet bronze statue of Govind Ballabh Pant in Rafi Marg in New Delhi; the Bihar Vibhuti Anugrah Narain Sinha; Shri Krishna Sinha in Bihar secretariat are among his notable works.
He has created more than 200 sculptures all of mammoth proportions over a period of sixty years. Many of the statues adorn the Parliament house, New Delhi like the statues of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi. He has even created timeless pieces of our freedom fighters like Maulana and Azad, Bhagat Singh. Social activists like Jai Prakash Narain and Mahatma Jyotiba Phule did not go overlooked. It is almost like he has captured the rich history of India on a film of bronze.
In 1952, Ram V. Sutar married Pramila with whom he had Anil Sutar who is now a recognised sculptor and architect. Anil Sutar was the brains behind the beautiful Anand Van, located near the Surajkund-Baikal lake. The garden is almost like an ode to his father with white fibreglass replicas of Ram Sutar’s creations. The father-son duo handle a company and studio in Noida named after the sculptor himself.
This great artist’s work has not gone unnoticed because it is impossible to unsee that colossal beauty. They enjoy important installations in different parts of India and the world, including the USA, Europe and other Asian Countries. He is the recipient of many national accolades. Artists from diverse backgrounds visit his studio to study under him and learn techniques of sculpting. His works have been compared to that of the Rodin and Michelangelo who are considered the grandmasters of sculpting.