November 16, 2009

The Great Wall of Mumbai

Yesterday was incredible!
Yesterday I drove by the Tulsi Pipe Road from Mahim to Lower Parel and was blown away by the graffiti art on what has now been dubbed the Great Wall of Mumbai. It has totally transformed the dirty, drab wall along the Western Railway line until it is one of the most interesting, vibrantly colourful pieces of public property I've seen in a very long time.

Can you believe this is in Mumbai?
Okay, with a stretch of your imagination maybe you can. And you can see the all-too familiar lines and geegaws that go with the railway tracks just on the other side of the wall.
But can you believe that this wildly, impossibly colourful stretch was actually sanctioned by the BMC, the tradition-bound, red-tape-shackled corporation that runs Mumbai city?
I love it!

The Wall Project is the initiative of a group of very talented and super-creative artists who go around transforming dull, boring walls into superb works of art . When the BMC offered this kilometres-long stretch of wall as a canvas, there was a flurry of activity, both online and on-site. Messages were posted, the grapevine buzzed and on the appointed days (first in August and again in October this year) all interested artists and assistants let their creative juices flow.
And what was once the receptacle of paan-juices and a surface for crudely printed handbills, is now the showcase of the creativity of the city's artistically inclined .

What fun! I wish I could've been there. Maybe if there is another call going out for artists ... And I'm sure there will be, there're plenty of unpainted sections left in that wall still.

There are still portions of the wall , especially near Mahim, where it provides shelter to pavement-dwellers. I saw this family busy preparing their dinner and couldn't help thinking that they're living in the shadow of some artist's concern and love for this city.

This little boy was sitting near the women and as soon as he saw that we had stopped to click photos, he ran up with the widest smile on his face. He was thrilled to see that I had clicked his photo and immediately asked me to click one of his family too.
Do you see his dinner cooking in the background?

Further down the road, Michael Jackson was one of the recurring themes on the wall. I think a lot of fans poured out their grief in paint here.

As if Mumbai could ever do without its film stars! They were all here, larger than life . And there were so many more that I enjoyed.
Some I couldn't get a good shot of because it was too dark, and long stretches were blocked by the vehicles parked in front of them. Even more were a blur because I had a lot of cars impatiently honking from behind and telling me to "move, or else...!".
But, take a look at some of the others that I did get...

But the one that said it all had to be this one!