Portrait of Ramdas Paranjpe by Mumbiram in the Library of the District Court Pune

Advocate Ramdas Paranjpe, Oil Painting by Mumbiram, Pune, 1990

Advocate Ramdas Paranjpe was the president of the Pune Bar Association, the organisation of Pune’s lawyers in 1963. After he passed away in 1989 it was proposed that a portrait of Ramdas Paranjpe should be hung on the premises of the District Court of Pune. Artist Mumbiram happily accepted the challenge of making this portrait of his father whom he dearly loved and respected. Even though many photographs existed Mumbiram wanted to show his father as he remembered him. In this portrait that resulted we see Paranjpe holding a volume of law book that has two inscriptions across its ribs: “Satyameva Jayate” (truth always triumphs) in Devanagari script and “Veritas Vos Liberabit” (truth will set you free) in Latin. In Mumbiram’s estimate his father was a handsome dark man. He had a broad forehead with prominent temple bones which Mumbiram himself inherited. He had a strong square chin with a dimple in the middle. He had a rather short nose that was angular and finely sculpted. He had kind eyes and a winning smile. He was well liked by his friends. In this portrait he is seen in a white shirt and a lampblack jacket such as is worn by lawyers. His necktie has red polka dots on a dark green background. Mumbiram was proud of his father’s sartorial preferences. He had delicate hands as you see here holding the book. The ring finger is adorned with a purple ruby ring, which was the only ornament he ever wore. Mumbiram has lovingly captured all these details and left the background entirely empty. The composition is interesting, the head is tilted and the top of the head appears cropped. It is deliberate. The total effect is an alive portrait rather than a frontal mug shot. Mumbiram had chosen an 80 year old wood worker named Gokhle to fashion a simple elegant frame. Gokhle had placed the framed painting on a chair in his road side garage work shop. It so happened that a family friend, the well known revolutionary freedom fighter Shirubhau Limaye, was passing by. As he casually glanced through the open door of the shop he had the shocking flash that Ramdas Paranjpe was sitting on a chair in the shop in person. Shirubhau himself narrated this experience to Mumbiram. Mumbiram knew his portrait was a success. Soon thereafter the painting was installed in the District Court Library at the hands of the retired chief justice of India, Shri Y. V. Chandrachud, in a special ceremony.

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