Published: 11th October 2017
Chennai artist Chitra Iyer's series gives life to some of Chennai's popular food joints and takes you on a doodle drive
The anonymous artist has 25 photos in her doodle series that captures and throws back to childhood memories and food that was finger lickin good
What would you associate Chennai with? Beaches, history, music, culture or temples? 27-year-old anonymous artist Chitra Iyer, an illustrator, associates herself with the food and food joints in the city. And not just the popular ones mind you. From filter kaapi to Sangeetha's dosai, Chitra recently did a series of 25 drawings called Chennai Doodle Series, where she takes you through her local food memories.
A true blue Chennai girl, she started this series to pass time. "My initial idea was to do a recipe blog; instead of taking pictures I wanted to draw them. But then I realised they are aplenty and too common. I wouldn't be able to do anything new with it. Hence I started this series for fun," she says. The series not only has hotels and shops on paint and paper, but also food items that she relished as a kid. Thaen mittai, vadai and kuzhipanniyaram made the cut.
The series includes Sathyam popcorn, Grand sweets murukku, Frankie, and Jigarthanda. "Early food memories definitely include the masala dosai from Saravana Bhavan that was right next to our house; the small family-owned sweet shops; the roadside sundal especially near Marina Beach and of course panju mittai and kuchi ice," she shares.
Overdosa: She wanted her paintings to be visually appealing
As there are umpteen favourites in the city, Chitra has had to make some tough choices. "My idea was to paint those that look visually appealing. I wanted to draw the Murugan Idly Kadai but it is just a white building with a whiteboard, so I had to choose something colourful like the Balaji sandwich shop," she says. The series also involves her favourites from Coimbatore, where she spent a few years. "It is mostly all Chennai, but some memories from Coimbatore too. I didn't want to call it Tamil Nadu doodle series."
Chitra has been sketching for quite some time and has taken to painting only now. While she took close to two hours at the beginning of the series, now she finishes them in 30 minutes. It was easy for her to get ideas, having travelled to all these places. Yet, she did put out tweets for public opinion. "Most of them were my ideas. Many wanted me to draw the Venkateswara Boli Stall, but I have never been there. And there were polls on choosing between Mansukh Chat and Balaji Sandwich Shop," she says. There were some that didn't make the cut. "Some of them were Ratna Cafe, The old Grand Sweets and also the small shops I visited as a child. They no longer exist and I don't have any photographs of them either."
Among all her art, the hardest was sundal! "Can you believe that?! They are all the same colour and it was very hard to give a dimension to it. As much as I wanted to, I had to drop it. Even bhajji is hard to paint but my latest one was a molaga bhajji that had water spill over but I replaced it with sugarcane juice. I will do a bhajji series soon; it's my favourite beach food," she smiles.
The series has 25 photos and she will now move on to series on other cities she lived in- Hyderabad, Mumbai and Bengaluru. The series has received a good response but there are a few who have asked why certain other favourites were not included. "I might do a separate series but not include it in this set. I might call it 'favourite restaurants of India' or something," she points out.