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Where the walls come to life: Graffiti in Mumbai
Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

I am so pleased to bring to you our first guest blog by a very talented writer-photographer. This is part of our attempt towards making seek&hide an inclusive platform by getting travelers together to share experiences.  Bhavani takes you gently by the hand and leads you on a graffiti walk in Mumbai’s Bandra area.

Just off bustling Hill Road in Bandra, there are roads that lead you deep into an East Indian village. Paved narrow lanes lined with more than 100-year-old buildings, tightly squashed together in communion, this is a mix of communities and ethnicities all living together and sharing space. Cars, small vans and autos honk their way through keeping you on your toes, but there is a peace about these lanes, a quietness that comes from having been around way longer than you and me. Many houses are making way to aspirations of the multiplying population and are demolished to become ugly 5 storey buildings that jut out like boils, an eyesore on an otherwise smooth skin. But still, there is a difference from the big shops and haggling crowd just 2 minutes away on Hill Road, you enter another world in these lanes, a world from the past that you can still savour, maybe for just a little bit longer.

And in these very by lanes of Veronica Street and Chapel Street the walls are decorated with perhaps the first graffiti or street art in all of Mumbai. One can almost say it all began right here.

Graffiti in Mumbai - street art in Bandra

 Graffiti in Mumbai - girl with heart

The walls were getting old, falling apart and the residents in these areas didn’t have the money or maybe the inclination to maintain them. So a group of four artists from the National Institute of Design decided to breathe life back into these walls, just with some paint, brushes and ideas. But, before you dismiss this as a rebellious expression of some wayward young artists, let me tell you that this is graffiti with a difference. The artists ask the owners for permission, and very often are encouraged to paint the walls, even supplied with ladders!

 


Local artists do most of the graffiti in Mumbai, but there is some work by International artists like ‘Rock’ and ‘Shiro’.

Graffiti in Mumbai - Triple optics by Rock
Triple optics by “Rock”
Graffiti in Mumbai by Japanese artist
Graffiti by Japanese artist


Not all of it is on the walls of buildings; some shop doors and shutters have dramatic art all over them. Most appealing is a snack shop that is covered with a tribute or rather an ‘un’tribute to momos!

Graffiti in Mumbai - snack shop door

Graffiti in Mumbai - four momos

Graffiti in Mumbai never trust a momo


A famous Bollywood poster artist Ranjit Dahiya started the Bollywood Art Project. Larger than life images of Amitabh, Anarkali and Salim bring the Bollywood back into your life. There are plans to do more given that Indian cinema is now 100 years old! If you are interested, find B.A.P on Facebook.

Graffiti in Mumbai - Bollywood Art Project

And once you say Indian cinema, can Rajni be far behind?

Graffiti in Mumbai - Rajnikanth

 

With time, some of the art is looking older and dirty… others have gotten a whitewash, so they do not exist anymore! Don’t go looking for the boy eating his popcorn; it’s a plain blue wall now. But that always makes a walk down these lanes interesting; you never know what’s going to pop up down the corner!

Graffiti in Mumbai - little boyGraffiti in Mumbai

The BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) liked these efforts so much that in order to avoid posters being stuck on walls, and dirtying of walls along Tulsi Pipe Road or Senapati Bapat Marg, an arterial road in Mumbai, they commissioned artists to paint a 2 kilometre long stretch of wall along Tulsi Pipe or Senapati Bapat Marg. So a couple of years ago, on Independence Day, artists from all over India got together and gave the wall a fresh coat of their art.

While in many cities in India, the municipality dictates what can and what should not be on walls, in Mumbai there is complete freedom, letting street art, artists and ideas blossom organically, for now. There are still new sites popping up from time to time, and new artists. For some of the latest street art, check out the pillars below the monorail construction from Ghatkopar to Chembur, each pillar has a different story to tell.

You don’t need to be an artist to join this endeavour, visit the Wall Project online and start contributing with some time, ideas and yourself. And yes, life is all about expression!

Graffiti in Mumbai

All photos courtesy Bhavani except Rajesh Khanna wall art by Bollywood Art Project

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Graffiti in Mumbai - Bhavani Ramesh

A market researcher by elimination. Traveler by choice. Photographer by interest and writer by desire. Bhavani is either traveling or planning her next trip. Catch her travel tales at merrytogoaround.com.

To contribute your story/photo essay, please see Guidelines for Guest Blog submissions

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Posted by Sudha at 9:13 pm
9 comments
    Comments ( 9 9)
  • Kala Ramesh

    June 6, 2013

    Most expressive!
    Truly enjoyed reading it. You’ve zoomed in well, bringing this art into focus for people who live outside Mumbai.
    Thank you :)

  • sudha

    June 6, 2013

    Thanks! Kala. Glad you liked it.

  • Uma

    June 6, 2013

    This wall painting article has been well painted !!

  • sudha

    June 6, 2013

    Thanks for stopping by, Uma!

  • seb powen

    June 7, 2013

    nice. my favourite ever green hero Rajesh khanna.

  • sudha

    June 7, 2013

    Thanks for dropping by, Seb and we love Rajesh Khanna too :)

  • Pravin

    June 7, 2013

    Really enjoyed this blog

  • [...] if you like graffiti, street art do visit walls comes alive in bandra, mumbai for the entire [...]

  • Ajinkya

    June 4, 2014

    where is that snack shop door? please revert

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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

 
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