Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III

Ranjitsinh Gaekwad passes away

Ranjitsinh Pratapsinh Gaekwad always looked a little bemused and a little lost sometimes; as though being part of royalty would not have been his personal choosing. Dressed mostly in a white kurta and churidhar, he would give me a small wave from across a gallery space, where we would meet on the occasion of other peoples openings; and in conversation he would always tease me that he considered himself more my son's friend than mine. This was because he came back to art school in the 90's as a mature student when Mithun was doing his under graduation at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S University of Baroda at the same time too!

I found him unpretentious and with a rather mischievous sense of humour. He would love to quietly slip in a one liner during some solemn or ponderous moment at an art gallery in Baroda, and have you biting your lip to control your laughter! He never indulged in any petty politicking and maintained a space around him that did not encourage over familiarity. He took his art practise very seriously and his figure studies reflected the stylistic influences of the British royal academic school of art. I always found him his most abandoned in spirit, when in conversation about his art. He was also passionate about music, and on the only occasion many years ago when I had tea at the Palace along with other artists who were also invited, he sang for us with his eyes tightly shut and lost to the world around him.

You cannot live in Baroda for all these many years that I have without the sense of attachment towards the Gaekwad family. Contributing to the education that has given direction to thousands of careers, this erstwhile family becomes part of each of our personal ancestries in subtle ways. As a child I would be driven to school each day passing by the Laxmivillas Palace. It's beautiful fence and numerous imposing gates that demarcated the sprawling estate, where at the epicentre this beautiful palace stands tall, became a remembrance entrenched as vividly belonging to my personal world of memories.

Ranjitsinhji with his grey slightly dishevelled hair and crumpled kurta pyjama became an ordinary citizen in many ways with his disdain for snobbery and elitist rituals. He will, I am sure, find a quiet spot up in the heavens now that he is no longer with us, and park himself with the minstrel angels. He will also carry his jhola around with him in which his drawing book and pencil case will be handy. I believe finally he will be able to do what he has always desired to do: leave behind all the unnecessary earthly responsibilities and devote himself to his music and art without compromise or disturbance. I commend you for the courage you possessed to be the kind of man you chose to be: different and true to your own beliefs. The city of Baroda mourns your passing away, and we will all hold your memory as special for many years to come.

Source : Rekha Rodwittiya Blog