“The evil is around and there is only one person for the job and it’s YOU.”
The message on the walls beside the toll plaza at Shamshabad, near the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad, is hard to miss. Anxious faces, young and old, men, women, and children, all in grayscale, stare back at the passersby, but from behind a blue surgical mask.
When three art enthusiasts in Hyderabad decided to use their craft to create awareness amidst a raging pandemic, they knew the task was challenging. “The concept was to depict the seriousness of the pandemic and the fight against it. The art had to convey the message while not distract the drivers. It was not possible on busy streets but the walls near the toll plaza were ideal,” says 26-year-old Vinay Cheguri, who works as an IT analyst for a multinational software giant.
“The challenge was to draw expressive faces that were mostly behind a mask. The eyes had to convey the message. We wanted to show everyone is in the same fight against the virus,” adds Uppara Sreedhar, a postgraduate in Fine Arts and one of Cheguri’s partners. Both of them credit their third partner Ram for the impact on the audience.
With our artworks, we are creating social awareness to all kinds of ppl (old, young, police,woman,etc) need to keep up their mask on #MaskUp #MaskOn #maskedup @RaoKavitha @KTRTRS @cdmatelangana @arvindkumar_ias #Hyderabad #telanganafightscorona #Unite2FightCorona pic.twitter.com/Qn7Pmffy3T
— vinay cheguri (@vinay_cheguri) April 23, 2021
Near the toll plaza, they have drawn eight faces. The work was commissioned by the Shamshabad municipality and was finished in three weeks. “We wanted to choose people from our daily lives and appeal to those from poor and middle-class backgrounds. These faces have different expressions but anxiety is common. The highlight, however, is the fighting spirit,” adds Cheguri.
The group has so far worked with around 10 urban local bodies across the state and is in talks with many more. Cheguri, who was active in the Arts club in college, had back then joined hands with like-minded friends to create a start-up that promotes social messages through art. As others took on full time jobs and left, Cheguri stuck to the concept and joined hands with Sreedhar and Ram, who are Fine Arts graduates. Their startup DCOPS was commissioned to paint the walls of government schools in Warangal, public spaces in Mahabubnagar and Yadadri districts, besides Hyderabad.
Telangana cases on the rise
Telangana is currently reeling under an intense wave of coronavirus pandemic. New infections are on a steep rise and deaths are mounting. As many as 8,126 new infections were reported in the last 24 hours. This is the highest ever single-day spike as of date since the beginning of the pandemic. Of them, 1,259 new infections were recorded from Greater Hyderabad. On Saturday, 33 people succumbed to COVID-19 as per the medical bulletin issued on Sunday morning by the Directorate of Public Health and Family Welfare.
The cumulative caseload stands at 3,95,232 and total fatalities at 1999. The recovery rate has fallen to 83.57 and the test positivity rate is currently at 7.5 percent. As many as 62,929 patients are active and undergoing treatment at present in Telangana.
Meanwhile, the State government has announced free vaccination for all including those who hail from elsewhere and are currently working here. A sum of over Rs 2,500 is estimated as expenditure for the same. Of the 4 crore population, around 35 lakh have been vaccinated so far.