Mumbai and Bollywood are synonymous with one another for many people. I have lost track of the number of times people have only wanted to talk about films and Bollywood with me, once they found out I was from Mumbai.
Yes, Mumbai is the birthplace of Indian cinema, all Hindi film production houses and studios are located here, all Hindi film stars live in Mumbai, etc… And yet, there is a remarkable lack of initiatives to document its journey. Sure, there are books, some half-hearted attempts at tours of the Film City, product designs with Bollywood as the theme, and so on… but these are individual, isolated efforts.
One such effort is the Bollywood Art Project (B.A.P), “an urban art initiative that aims to transform the walls in Mumbai into a living memorial to Bollywood”. Founded in 2012 by artist Ranjit Dahiya, B.A.P aims to “pay tribute to Indian cinema through street art”.
I saw my first B.A.P artwork about a year back late one evening on an organised walk around Bandra. All the light in the dimly lit Chapel Road area came from this smile. I know, I sound clichéd like many of the paeans sung about her. But it is true. Madhubala is gorgeous and there can be no one like her.
For some reason, I never wrote about that excellent walk I went on, though I kept meaning to. And when I saw more Bollywood-based murals recently during one of my visits to Bandra last month, I knew I couldn’t delay writing about them any longer.
The Madhubala art work is not the only one on that wall. There is another one — a huge painting from the film Anarkali — which was B.A.P’s first artwork. The style is reminiscent of film posters of yore, isn’t it?
To give you a perspective of how the Madhubala and Anarkali wall look together, here’s another photograph…
And then a little further away in Wardour Road is this painting. I’m not sure it’s part of B.A.P. — though it has the trademark radiating rays in the background, the work is neither signed nor is it as fine as their other work.
In my opinion, the best wall art on the theme of Bollywood is on the walls of a house near Bandstand. I didn’t know about it, till my friend Rama took me there. One wall has a mural dedicated to “Bollywood’s first superstar – Rajesh Khanna” and the second, road-facing wall is a reproduction of a poster from the film Deewar. Both are part of B.A.P.
That evening, in golden light of the setting sun, the effect was magical. To me they seemed to come alive in the style of “Lights. Camera. Action”. I stood there for a long time just looking at these two larger-than-life, compelling works of art as cars, buses, bikes and people just went by, some without even a backward glance at them.
Walking in Bandra’s streets this last month has been a revelation in every sense of the word, particularly the street art. You can comprehend how much I have enjoyed the exploration from the three posts I have written so far (do scroll to the end of the post for links to the others in the series). And I am still not done !
And before I forget, let me also share one image, which is not particularly enamoured of Bollywood. 😛
I have totally, completely fallen in love with street art and am wondering why there isn’t more of it around! But then again, maybe there is and I haven’t seen them. I am looking forward to continuing with this exploration in other parts of my city and I hope you will be there to read about it as well.
Till then I leave you with this black and white image of the lovely Madhubala 😀
More Street Art from Mumbai: The writing on the wall | Nagrana Lane’s secrets | Bollywood on the walls | A fantasy world at Chapel Road | The St+art invasion of Bandra and a curated walk | Street art @ Reay Road