K. Ramakrishnan Achari (1) The artist and his son with the finished portrait of Jawaharlal Nehru, 1960s (2) - Photographs from the private collection of the author.
K. Ramakrishnan’s house and studio served as a meeting place for many eminent people of the time. During 1940s when the Indian Nationalist Movement was in its peak, Ramakrishnan had to face a serious problem…..some of his intimate friends were high palace officials staunch royalists, ‘Rajabakthar’; and others were freedom fighters and ‘Congressmen’ such as Pattom A. Thanu Pilla. Ramakrishnan himself was a supporter of the king’s rule as the king and the royal families were his major patrons. But he had to entertain both.
Once when Pattom Thanu Pilla came to the studio, Ramakrishnan was busy painting a portrait of the King, Sree Chithira Tirunal Bala Rama Varma. Through the window he saw Thanu Pilla walking towards the studio. Ramakrishnan did not want to offend his friend who was a freedom fighter told his son Haridas to take away the portrait from the easel stand and hide it somewhere, so that Thanu Pilla will not see it. However, when Thanu Pilla came to the door Haridas noticed that a portrait of the leader was lying upside down in a dusty corner of the room. Knowing that Thanu Pilla might get angry seeing his portrait in such a miserable condition, Haridas quickly cleaned the portrait and placed it in a respectable place. Thanu Pilla couldn’t be more happy.
Many such situations arose later where Ramakrishnan had to struggle to please both of his friends; the royalists and the congressmen.
Sharat Sunder Rajeev