A riot of colours

Manjulika Pramod
Sunday, 17 June 2018

You need not always step into an art gallery to appreciate creativity and imagination. Street art of Mumbai is equally vibrant and before the rains wash it off, do make a trip 

As the clouds gather in the sky above the city of dreams, there isn’t a childlike cheer on my face at the thought of arrival of monsoon. I am worried about the couplings of colour, illustrative social messages and artistic drawings that has breathed a new life in my neighbourhood, and can be found at almost every prominent street and some of the buildings in Mumbai. But now they will fade or get washed away by the rains.

Before the artistic splendour disappears, make a trip to the city to admire the art.   

Asalpha Slum
Asalpha is perched on a hill top. You can see this little patch of colours from the Mumbai Metro if you board the train at Ghatkopar and look to the right. Once you land up there, you will be surprised to see it bright and vibrant with colours, wall art, murals which capture the essence of the place. Some of the residents were reluctant initially but once the Chal Rang De (Let’s Paint It) volunteers started their work, everyone came forward to help. The change was loved by all. This wall art comes with a purpose and it is helping to change people’s perception towards slum areas, is attracting locals and tourists, and is making the residents more thoughtful for a bigger purpose where they can use this makeover to earn money.

Spreading a message 
With 30 artists coming together from all over the world to paint the 142-year-old Sassoon Docks, with the Asalpha area in Ghatkopar suburb being turned into an open art gallery and with colourfully painted neighbourhoods spreading the message, ‘Clean India, Green India’ — the city is definitely exploding with creativity. The medium of graffiti has been put to use in many creative ways to increase awareness of social issues. This definitely asserts that a lot can be said through art.

Since I am a painter at heart, I love bylanes and streets, bubbling over with graffiti. For me, street art is a celebration of colours perfectly blended with imagination. In Mumbai, some of the iconic wall murals are done by Bollywood art project, a project that came into being in 2012 to celebrate the love and fascination for popular Hindi cinema and its artists. In the last few years, it has become an important part of the city’s culture and you can’t talk about it without mentioning artist Ranjit Dahiya.

Open-for-all art galleries
Today’s traveller doesn’t only look forward to touristy places, they also look for a concept which they can relate to. Graffiti and murals are in vogue these days. All over the world, street art has been transforming neighbourhoods in many ways and boosting tourism.

In India, Mumbai can definitely be our street art capital. Cuffe Parade, Pali, Churchgate, Chapel Road, Colaba, Sassoon Docks, Ghatkopar East are home to some of the most amusing and interesting artworks. For lovers of all things artsy, I am listing down some of the most popular art spaces that you just can’t miss in the city. You just need to go, walk around, take help from the locals, discover them for yourself and soak in the joy. Every time I walk into these places, I am elated to find something new.

Lion Gate in Fort
There is maritime related graffiti on the walls of Lion Gate in the town area. This is one of the oldest and iconic artworks of the city.

Local stations
Various local tales are sprawled across walls of the stations of Mumbai. Some of the social messages are very relevant and I think stations are just the right place to voice them in the form of art. At every other station, you will be surprised to find something interesting, something colourful to make you experience the little joys of life.

Chapel Road 
Chapel Road connects Mount Carmel Church to Hill Road. This is a very artistic place and deserves a mention for it has artwork from some of the most famous global artists. Many styles of work can be seen here. It is a lot of fun to walk from one lane to another, for you never know what you’re going to spot around the next corner. This part of Mumbai has some free-spirited graffiti to explore.  

Bandra and Hill Road
For me, Bandra begins where there is a colourful mural of Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu standing tall on the walls of Rizvi Chambers. And then you must walk deep into the lanes of Chapel Street to find huge artworks like the one of Madhubala. 

Sassoon Docks
While it played a vital role in the old trading days, it is a full-fledged fishing district now. The smell of fish can be a put off at first but once you will see the huge and amazing artworks by street art initiative St+art India, there will be no stopping despite the bad odour. The visit to the Sassoon Docks will also give you a chance to peek into the life of the Koli fishing community, where women play a very important role in the fishing economy. No doubt, some of the fabulous artworks are dedicated to them. 

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