Tucked in the narrow lanes of Old Delhi’s Matia Mahal is a small wooden shop selling perfume and ittar. Set up in the 1930s, Mahfil Perfumery is run by Mohammad Wasi, who is in his late 50s, and his son. The shop, though old, is known only to a few who visit Old Delhi frequently. Lately, the store has seen a dip in sales, with Wasi and his son spending hours waiting for customers.
However, Wasi might soon see better business following a visit by a few youngsters in April. The group, from Indianama, had come to him with a proposal — to revamp his shop and his products for free. According to the website, Indianama is an “inclusive platform that curates and showcases the work of multi-disciplinary artists, across boundaries”.
The current project, ‘Indianama2018: The street hustle’, has brought together 71 vendors from Chandni Chowk, Darya Ganj, Karol Bagh, Lado Sarai, Mehrauli and Saidulajab along with artists. Each artist will be paired with a shop/business owner to “conceptualise, design and initiate an identity system for them”. This will then be implemented on-site, with supervision by the designer.
“We started Indianama in 2016. That year, we documented 69 years of Independence through different stories. This year, we are trying to change lives by giving a face to the anonymous people who live in the bylanes and are mostly ignored,” said Kunel Gaur, creative director of the project.
Among the shops selected for a facelift are Hakim at Jama Masjid, a small bookstore at Nayi Sadak, a pan shop, a bangle shop, a roadside dhaba, an egg wholesaler, a barber shop and a knife maker, among others.
For Kalay Mansoori Cooler, located in the Mehrauli market and operational for 12 years, an artist has designed signages and banners for the shop, keeping in mind the owner’s love for black.
Sher Singh, who provides tiffin service and runs a small dhaba at Saidulajab, is hopeful that the project will increase his customer base. “I named the dhaba after my son, Aryan. Initially, I did not understand what the project was about, but now I am eagerly waiting for it,” said Singh.
Gaur added, “Vendors were initially reluctant. When we talked about changing signages, they thought we had something to do with the MCD sealing drive. After several meetings, we were able to convince them… and the project is now in full swing.”
A packaged version will be unveiled at Bikaner House between August 5-25.