Apart from being the largest employer in the country, Indian Railways has often been an inspiration to many a creative pursuit, ranging from travelogues to odes to the sights, sounds and romance associated with train travel. Celebrated authors from Rudyard Kipling and Intizar Husain to Ruskin Bond and Satyajit Ray have rhapsodised on the charms of the railways.
One would imagine that those who work in the railways would, however, be immune to these sights and sounds, but it’s not the case with Bijaya Biswal, a train ticket examiner in the Nagpur division of Indian Railways. Biswal, known for his brushstrokes that have in the past painted wondrous portraits of men and the world, has now turned his attention to the railways. In a series of watercolour paintings, he has brought out the hidden charms and beauty of a railway junction and the lives that revolve around it.
Shared by the Salem Division of Southern Railways on their Facebook page, his artwork quickly went viral, with people hailing him as a genius and some even suggesting that he should be running his own art gallery and teaching art rather than examining tickets for a living.
Biswal, though, says that his art is different from his work and the railways continue to motivate him to create more.
“I don’t think I need to get away from my job to pursue art,” he said. “My job allows me to travel and observe the platforms, the trains, the employment of people around them, and so many other things which I try to capture in my artwork.”
Biswal has been working with the railways for the past 25 years, but he started painting much earlier and has only started getting recognition now.
“I have been painting with charcoal, pens, watercolours etc since the very young age of five or six,” he said. “The paintings on Indian Railways aren’t new either. I made them sometime ago but it’s only now that they have started to get popular and people are discovering them, so there’s praise but I have no plans of leaving work to pursue art. I am already pursuing it.”
Here are some of his recent paintings where he captures the beauty of Indian railways: