Chhota Bheem to Pather Panchali: Kolkata residents turn electric boxes into canvases

Joining the bandwagon is Deputy Commissioner of South East Division Kalyan Mukhopadhyay. Outside his office, the senior police officer has painted two such boxes. “It was a tough day at work one day,” said Mukhopadhyay.

Written by SWEETY KUMARI | Kolkata | Updated: October 15, 2018 4:42:57 am
A painted electric box in Kolkata. (Express photo by Subham Dutta)

Walk down Park Street and you may find a painted electric box, one among the 100 such that have come up in the city. A catching trend in the city these days is to let imagination run wild on these metal boxes.

Joining the bandwagon is Deputy Commissioner of South East Division Kalyan Mukhopadhyay. Outside his office, the senior police officer has painted two such boxes. “It was a tough day at work one day,” said Mukhopadhyay. “So I decided to paint these boxes.”

His canvas was a rough, rusted boxes with paan stains. After applying a primer, he began painting. “I took about nine hours to paint these boxes, spread over a couple of days. I used metallic enamel colour which doesn’t get washed away in rain,” said Mukhopadhyay.

Pictures of the cop’s effort did the rounds on social media and soon reports began to emerge of more such painted boxes. Mudar Pathreya said he was inspired after seeing a “Chhota Bheem” painting on an electric box near his home in Sarat Chatterjee Avenue.

“Since then, I have painted about 75 boxes in the city with the help of a painter from Shibpur, Howrah area in last few months. I raise funds or spend my own money. My work comes only after permission from Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation that had installed these bozes. Through my work, I hope to highlight Kolkata’s culture,” he told The Indian Express.

On Elgin Road, a box is painted as a tribute to Subhas Chandra Bose with the tagline – Netaji, 1897-Eternity. At Lake Temple Road where Satyajit Ray lived, the painted with a train, a pair of opera glasses, and a forest depicting three of his films Pather Panchali, Charulata and Aranyer Dinratri.

“In the next five years, we will change all the electric boxes. I just focus on things that are Kolkata-centric. Basically if an electric box is located in the neighborhood of people who brought lot of fame to the city than we paint that personality or objects related to him/her,” said Pathreya.

In New Town too, there have been vigorous attempts at painting these boxes by the Kolkata Architects Forum. Its founder, Abin Chaudhuri, had earlier spearheaded the drive to beautify the city.

“So far 40-50 feeder boxes have been painted in New Town”, said Debasis Sen, State Additional Chief Secretary and West Bengal Housing and CMD Infrastructure Development Corporation (WBHIDCO).

“These new found beautiful canvasses in the city have given a new meaning to the city. I was in awe to see one of the boxes which was beautifully designed in Rajarhat. It is now on people to keep it clean and maintained”, said a government official who didn’t want to be named.

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