by Angshuman Paul
Brilliantly beautiful is the phrase that you will resort to describe the charming lobby of Lalit Hotel, Barakhamaba Avenue located in central area of Connaught Place in New Delhi. Like any other 5 star hotel in the capital this hotel also tries to cajole the visitors through a charismatic way but they have their own elegant way to do it and such elegancy lies through extensive art objects. The Suris, who are the owner of the Lalit Hotel are known for their concern for creative work and that's expressed in the lobby which has extensive paintings from Satish Gujral to M.F Husain. But as I started exploring more in this fanatically flamboyant hotel, I feel that the hotel could have been more fantastic if it was finished with expressing the greatness of the artist. Confused! Well then be with us as we explore this exotic hotel through it's intellectual property.
From the magnificent & marvelous lobby, I managed my way to the reception and before crossing that on the left hand side I saw the painting - The Last Mughal by Satish Gujral. On the back wall of the reception there were 4 bronze statues of Lord Vishnu in various mudras and such exclusive figures make a gorgeous feeling. But the greatness of this wall was in a gigantic painting by M.F Husain. I knew Husain's work and was also aware with Satish Gujral's work, so the lobby was luring me. In the matter of skill and workmanship, Satish Gujral has managed magnificently the historical era of the Mughal and the then Delhi, so paintings like The Last Mughal, Delhi 1857 was very nice to add oodles of oomph to portray that period in a 21st century professionally run hotel. As I pass from the picture perfect reception to the Art Junction located at the third floor, a fountain on the left hand side made it more splendid.
The Art Junction has it's own specialty in giving space for budding artist whose work was vibrantly ubiquitous in the hall. It's the zealously construction of new cultural elite, like a painting on sun & shade saloon by Kishan Ahuja was positioned in a saloon chair and a mirror. Such designing was done by an aristocrat Dr Jyotsna Suri, CMD of The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group who's efficient enough to express the essential elements needed for this Kishan Ahuja's piece. But her expertise, I felt was not for all art goods that the Art Junction or Le Petit Café (my next location) as they didn't laminate much about the makers of the art goods in terms of promoting them. Le Petit Café posses white colour cane sofa with red lip shaped cushions that promotes Salvador Dali's paintings. The Executive Director of the hotel Keshav Suri is very passionate Dali's picture and replica of Dali's The Time Piece is reflected in this café. “The opening up of this café was to specify the splendid art culture in Europe as I thought that will make the café more special and superb to our tourist coming from all across the world. So it's not only the coffee but the aura also which our guest will remember,” says Keshav. True effort indeed but not all tourists are wooed by such popular print and not all of them know labels like Dali. So even if somebody would be appreciating the awesome café and its beautiful colonial copper made coffee machine but the scope of being actually exposed to these elegant artisan is few.
After finishing with the Café, I came down to the right hand side of 2nd floor which was known as the personal lobby of Dr. Suri. As mentioned earlier she's a perfectionist and her quest for art is reflected in a ravishing man & lion sculpture by Satish Gujral and his signature will say us that it's his creation. Creativity is always about expressing it and such extensive expressions are the feelings of the image maker, so why is such intellectuality of the maker not promoted. Like in Imeprial hotel each art objects reflect the specific splendid thought of the creator through vibrant demonstration of notes from the painter with each artifact. So I ask Keshav the reason for such transaction missing? “I think if somebody appreciates the art work would also understand the creative element for that we need not express any extensive intellectual note on that art. Also I believe well-known Indian artist like Raja Ravi Varma are quiet well promoted and if somebody is passionate about his work, will not require for further promotion,” replies Keshav. Whatever we debate on but the enormous artifact laid in the extensive lobby made it very elegant. Like in front of the window frame, the Ashoka tree bonsai with it's right hand side vibrant painting contrasted by another dark piece – christened as 'left over' by Naresh Kapuria reflecting a glass window in dark created a fantastic milieu. The lobby reflected the Europeanized school of Indian Art.
The nature of the connection between modern Indian art & European art is everywhere in the hotel; it's like a great combination of heritage with contemporary art. The vision of a civilization of a classical time has been very boldly conveyed in a contemporary way. Such concept was framed in the night club- Kittysu. Kittysu is a flamboyant character who posses both heritage and modern culture. The interior of this nightclub represents temple arts with two pillars indicating the Khajuraho temple's idols. The psychology of subordination showing up an ancient civilization where sex was an art in a today's nightclub was the brainchild of Keshav Suri. The cultural propaganda is plain and simple here and does not require any artistic explanation.
The hotel itself is a bourgeois eternity and naturalness of art blended with the feelings of the promoters for art. This is palpable in the catalogue of the hotel's enormous events. Last month, the Suris organized an art workshop. Christened as 'Nai Ummeed' this is an annual event done by the group for the last two years to commemorate art through workshops & shows. The appropriation of new hopes in performing arts has been the concept of seminars in this festival. Strictly speaking The Lalit Hotel is not the first or the only hotel in Delhi which has a hitherto hidden penchant for art. But this hotel has set ultimate standard of blending art with a five star hotel. But such exhibition of arts can bring it's national acclaim to international tourist visiting the hotel only by expressing the details of the great creative work of the artist. Of course in such case there's always the fear of the hotel being perceived as a fine Arts society or art school at any point of time. But as Prof. Rajeev Lochan, Director of National Gallery of Modern Art points out, “Irrespective of following the traditional discipline of art school still you can create interest for art among the empty mind provided you know what signifies that artist's appeal in the painting.” Such significance is the mapping of indigenous Indian art to the world of art and in a hotel like Lalit where enormous foreign guest are appearing this sort of opportunity could have been enhanced by not only keeping a creative genius of Satish Gujral but also in addition to it a little bit on the theme of the painting.
The art fraternity in Lalit is truly awesome with a beautiful composition of an art junction with a café. The hotel stands tall in the heart of New Delhi, forming a perfect choice for both business and leisure travellers to India's capital city but to cajole the art enthusiast, I feel more hype should be created around the intellectual property that the hotel possess. But the demonstration of art in the hotel definitely creates a creative scene.