Art Street: How a farmer’s figure in Mumbai’s Prabhadevi came to be known as the ‘naked statue’

Over the past six decades, a statue of a farmer holding corn in one hand and a dove in another on Cadell Street in Prahadevi, Mumbai has become known as Najda Bhutla or the Naked Statue. Designed by famous sculptor Ramchandra Pandurang Kamat and created in the 1950s, the statue has also faced some opposition from religious groups in the past but has managed to withstand it for more than half a century now.

The nagda putla is a popular local landmark, says Vinayak Talwar, a Khaki Tours volunteer who takes people on tours in Prabhadevi district. It is called Najda Boutla as the statue appears to be wearing nothing. It is located in the vicinity of the place where Ramchandra Kamat resided in Prabhadevi. He came from Goa and is also responsible for the statue of Goddess Laxmi atop the Laxmi Insurance Building in Mumbai.

However, his most famous work is the sculpture of Abu Faria in Panaji in Goa. Varia was a pioneer in the scientific study of hypnosis and Kamat was given credit for the bronze statue of Varia apparently trying to hypnotize a woman. Kamat died in 2000 at the age of 96.

His son Dr. Aditya Kamat still resides in the Prabhadevi building where the sculptor lives. “My father’s work was so good that when the Dean of JJ School of Art saw him, he accepted him directly in the second year instead of the first. Before he completed sophomore year, he was accepted into the Royal London Academy of Art and also won medals there. In the end, Dr. Aditya said, returned to the country.”

He added that the Butla Rescue is actually a statue of a farmer with corn in one hand, a dove in the other and a flag wheel near his legs. It symbolized the importance of farmers and progress. “The building also had a sign that wrote Studio Camat to indicate that the sculptor resided nearby. Over the years, people had their own interpretations and it came to be called the Boutla Rescue.

“However, if you see, there is a piece of cloth carved into the structure but people don’t see it. In the 1970s, a religious group opposed it claiming it was obscene. My parents explained the concept to them and told them what it meant. They went away without causing any problem”.

He said there have been so many misinterpretations regarding the statue that people sometimes think it is a religious temple and come to offer flowers and even pray before it, he said. However, for the locals, the Butla rescue has remained a landmark throughout.

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