Published: 02nd February 2018
Artist Mukul Dey with over 12K miniature notebooks now to work on mini Bhagvad Gita
Calico, the main raw material for Dey's work is made from unbleached and often less- processed cotton far less fine than muslin, but less coarse and thicker than canvas or denim
Mukul Dey, a self-made miniature artist, makes tiny books and diaries that can be easily tucked into a seed or a chickpea. Dey has dedicated a huge amount of time every day for the past three decades creating these miniscule notebooks, some of which have won him laurels at home and beyond.
And now, the sexagenarian is on a new mission. He wants to inscribe Bhagwat Gita in three different languages on a little handmade notebook and tuck into a single mustard seed.
"From a four-inch by two-inch diary to two-inch by one-inch and now, I am making a handbook as little as of 0.35mm in length. I know it is hard to imagine," he said.
Using a 'special kind of soft paper' and calico, a plain-woven textile made from unbleached and often not-fully-processed cotton, Dey, a retired upper division clerk of the Ichapur Ordinance Factory, burns the midnight oil to create his masterpieces. It all started accidentally, almost 30 years back.
Just a day before submission, Dey's daughter Sanchita had misplaced her handmade school diary, a part of a work education project. The doting father promised her to make a replica of the diary overnight. "I came up with a four-inch by three-inch diary that morning with the leftover paper bought for her school project. To my surprise, it not only satisfied her, but also impressed the teachers. They wanted to keep it and requested for more such notebooks for their personal collection," he said.
Thus grew Dey's passion for making micro books. So much so, he can now confidently tuck six handmade notebooks into a mustard seed. These days, he takes just a couple of hours to finish off one micro notebook. Today, the 60-something, non-descript person wants to be known as Microman.
Over the years, accolades have come in heaps. Limca Book of Records had chronicled his work in 1993. The Films Division of India did a documentary on him. Doordarshan dedicated a whole episode of Mirch Masala on his work.
"I did exhibitions across the country. My employer - Ministry of Defence - projected me in their flagship fair at Pragati Maidan in Delhi. My work had received mentions in local media that year," Dey said.
However, he has no intention to sell his art. "I find it awkward when people try to buy my work of art just like that. I just want people to know about my hard work," Dey said. Lakshman Ghosh, 72, Dey's only assistant for three decades, lauded his friend's effort and zeal for perfection.
"Mukul never gives up. His can spend hours on shaping the paper and cuts it like no micro-machine can do. He is meticulous about making the tools required to create microbooks," he praised.
Asked about a memorable moment that he cherishes till date, Dey said, "When people got inquisitive - and a bit sceptical - about my work at the Pragati Maidan a few years ago, I just stood up and emptied my pockets, showering hundreds of notebooks at their sheer astonishment," smirked Dey.
The collection has touched over 12,000 now and it comprises tiny books and notebooks inserted in mustard seeds and dry Bengal gram.
"Passion, patience and perseverance are the three mantras that kept me hooked to my work over the last three decades and I want to keep on thinking small till the last day of my life," Dey signed off.