Visual story tellers ain’t narrators but talents bestowed by nature.

Team Katapult Networks
Jan 24 · 6 min read

When you hear the word “visual story teller” what is it that comes to your mind? While you type that in the comments for us to know, let us take you through our experience of getting introduced to something like this. This was the first time a word like this came across and of-course like any of you would do, we too thought of a visual story teller to be someone who probably narrates stories differently, may be with some new age digital colours or adding some variety of tech to plain words to make it sound different and interesting to the world. But guess what? We finally got to speak to our then potential guest for the show Up close & Personal! the visual story teller, about whom we had been anticipating, Debabrata Pal, and we were astonished with every piece of word that he said and explained to us what a real visual story teller was all about. We immediately decided how we wanted to have him on the show that very weekend as we could not wait to introduce an artist so fine like this to more people. Below is the link to our live chat, hear the man himself explain & demonstrate us about an art like this along-with Odissi Dance artist & trainer Smt. K. Jyotirmayee Pattnaik.

A visual story teller has nothing to do with story narrating but a lot more than this. In lay man’s words, a visual story telling session would include music, dance, drawing and painting but doesn’t this make you think how does one single person do all of this together? Yes you got it right, a visual story teller has to be someone who is excellent in all these forms of art so that together they can apply to making one single visual story telling session. We know it isn’t easy to grasp this concept but thanks to our beloved guest Debabrata Pal for making it a smooth ride for us to understand this subject in and out.

Image for post
Image for post
Debabrata Pal painting his thoughts on a canvas

Debabrata Pal, is from Odisha but currently lives in Mumbai. He has painted almost all the big names in the field of dance. This young and highly gifted artist has a special bond with art that makes him excel as a painter & dancer. And, he showcases his art through both these forms. This kind of talent is something that needs to be explored and practiced to bring it out clean and this dedication is what has made Debabrata the name that he is today. Debabrata shares how he started learning Odissi dance at the tender age of three years, but as he grew older and got fonder to his dance, his father was totally against a boy being on the dance floor. Soon, he was forced to stop dancing and that's when Debabrata found his other gifted skill of painting. Under the expert guidance of his teacher, Nilanshu Bala Shashmal, he learnt painting, his teacher often paid his fees, too, as Debabrata’s father never really supported his artistic side. Trying to keep up with his family expectations, Debabrata finished his education and completed his engineering, he also took up fashion designing and completed his course from INIFD. It was his Fashion designing course that gave him a break through as he was selected to represent his college at the prestigious Lakme Fashion Week. But painting never ever took a backseat.

Image for post
Image for post
Painting by Debabrata Pal
Image for post
Image for post
Painting by Debabrata Pal

Debabrata’s fondness for dance and painting were equally strong and when he saw Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee Sujata Mohapatra perform Odissi dance, he was spellbound by her perfection and grace. She evoked the dancer in him again and that is when he decided to try this new combination of art form called visual story telling where he painted her as she danced. The art work was a complete success as it turned out very well and that’s how he started to take this up more often and worked with various other dancers whom he painted throughout performances. Ask him about his favourite dancers whom he has painted and Debabrata says, he has enjoyed painting Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj. His perfection in dance is totally unmatched; he is indeed a legend in not just the way he dances, sings and performs but even in his way of life. He also loved his experience painting Padmashree Hema Maliniji at a Pune festival. He says he was extremely nervous and not because he was painting her but because her beauty is unreal. Among his most interesting experiences, Debabrata recalls painting Padma Vibhushan Dr. Sonal Mansingh in Tussar who is the epitome of Odissi dancing style. It’s not just classical dancers but Debabrata has also tried hands on western dance painting with Sandip Soparrkar, who danced the Cuban Rumba. He says, western dance and Indian classical dance have totally different sensibilities and painting the western art form was quiet a challenge but successful. There are two of his paintings that Debabrata loves the most and says “I am huge fan of Bollywood films and I love the work of National Award winning choreographer Saroj Khanji. I painted her in the award winning “Dola Re” pose from the film Devdas while she was teaching the dance steps on a dance reality show. Also, I painted the Maa Saraswati herself, Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar, while she was attending an event and sang a few lines. These two paintings are my most favourite.” Well Debabrata, all your painting and dance have been our favourites too.

Image for post
Image for post
Debabrata Pal painted Pandit Birju Maharaj
Image for post
Image for post
Debabrata Pal painted Hema Malini

Debabrata has successfully made his mark in the zone of painters, dancers and music. He creates dance and paintings and finds his peace in doing this throughout. Debabrata has also worked separately with designers and fashion brands and allowed his creativity as a designer to flow in. He truly wants the art and culture of Odisha to flourish and be known way more than what it is today. In 2018, Debabrata was invited by the chief minister of Odisha and felicitated for promoting the glorious art of Odisha through his work. More of his awards include his honour by parliamentarian Indresh Kumar, was awarded in Vietnam City for water colours by IWS organisation and conferred with the Charkha China Award at the Parliament of India. He also won the Youth Icon award in 2018.

Image for post
Image for post
Debabrata Pal painted Saroj Khan

It’s a matter of pride and privilege for Katapult Networks to connect with talented artists that are determined to transform the face of art, and thus the society, one masterpiece at a time. Stay connected with art and artists by listening to their inspiring stories on Up, Close & Personal!

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium