A Walk to Remember: Street Art in Bandra
After 8 years in Mumbai if there is one thing I have learned, it is this – this city never fails to surprise. Just when you think you have seen all that there is to see, Mumbai quietly rolls something new in your direction.
On one such serendipitous outing, I found myself on Chapel road in Bandra, just off Hill Road surrounded by a whole new world of street art and graffiti. They say this is the place where street art in Mumbai began.
The graffiti here is unlike I have seen anywhere, it follows no theme or order. It is as random as a red fez on a dragon.
Several contemporary artists came together to create graffiti that is fun, quirky, serious and colorful all at once. In many minds graffiti or street art is still seen as vandalism, but not here on Chapel Street. Due permissions are taken before turning walls and windows into work of art.
If you are an avid art lover, you may recognize many of the artists’ work. In addition to local artists, you will identify some international artists like Shiro and Rock.
I had a chance to briefly speak with Anu Rana, an artist whose beautiful poems you will find on the walls of Bandra. Anu is a versatile artist involved in several art projects such as mangopopsicle.org and InAWomansWorld.tumblr.com.
So what made her scribble on the walls of Bandra?
“I enjoy exploring my creativity in different ways and at the time I had decided that I wanted to connect with people in a physical, public way and in different cities that were significant to me. It felt rebellious in a digital world. I have always been inspired by street artists, especially the ones who carry a story with their work or otherwise turn a drab environment into something beautiful.”
Her thoughts on street art:
“I’m sure much has changed since I was last in India two years ago. I only remember the wall art in Mumbai and as someone who grew up in the U.S., I appreciated the work that felt unique to the city and country. There are many examples, but the stunning, giant Bollywood film posters are an obvious one. I think public art, not just traditional graffiti, is a significant and intrinsic part of Indian culture. It’s also great to stand in front of the notable work of street artists from other countries—you feel an instant global connection occupying the space they once were.”
It does not stop at individual artists working their mojo on these walls, BAP, an urban art initiative started by Ranjit Dahiya, has also done its part in beautifying the walls of Chapel road by paying tribute to the Indian cinema. The huge murals of Anarkali is breath taking and the Madhubala portrait is a work of pure beauty.
This is one of my favorite photographs from the walk. I don’t know if it is just my imagination but this boy looked awfully like Amitabh Bachchan from his post-Zanjeer days. What coincidence the very shy boy even agreed to pose for us!
Another thing that really struck me was how the people living in this neighborhood are completely nonchalant about random strangers invading their privacy. They are warm and welcoming and are often willing to strike a pose.
A little ahead, at St. Peters Church compound wall, street art has a whole new meaning, you will see wall after wall painted with messages of gender equality and other social causes.
You will always find some new street art cropped up on some wall here, the old ones are painted upon and replaced with another piece of wonder.