Even as the city’s first Metro runs over Mumbai in a closed-door, air-conditioned environment, a world apart from the bustling and chaotic life outside, the metropolis itself comes alive on the walls of its stations through some very quirky murals. To personalize the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro and give it a punch of the melting pot that Mumbai is, student artists from various colleges across the city have designed the station walls.
The murals depict everything that Mumbai is. The walls portray a second home for migrants, a place rich with architectural heritage, a place where people doing all and sundry sit next to each other and often share a bonding in their sufferings over key issues like transportation and housing.
Out of the Metro corridor’s 12 stations, eight stations-Versova, DN Nagar, Azad Nagar, Andheri, Western Express Highway, Airport Road, Marol Naka, Ghatkopar—have about 10,000 square feet of art describing Mumbai.
“To showcase Mumbai through art, we started looking at the stories of people migrating to the city, the unique situations that people in this city have to go through, and about how small routine things such as the dabbawalas, or the movie posters get together to form a whole,” said Shamika Desai, a third-year architecture student. Desai, a Peddar Road resident, has with her team given art for several walls of the Andheri Metro station.
Desai’s teammate, Shriya Sanil from Kandivai, said, “Each wall has a different story. On one wall, we have included the different modes of transportation that the city offers – trains, taxis, rickshaws. Then there is a wall under the escalator that talks about how people live under constraints of space in Mumbai, but yet learn to adapt to it.”
Besides, in a city where almost every second vacant wall is stained with paan spit marks, political and movie posters, and stickers advertising jobs or the occultism of tantriks, the murals will at least make people think twice about defacing the walls, Sanil said.
Similarly, a mural at the Azad Nagar Metro station shows Mumbai’s diversity in people. “We have portrayed the common people of this city that we see around us. A fisher-woman, a dabbawala, students, teachers, chaiwala, women gossiping in local trains. Everyone that we see around us,” said Prachi Kshirsagar, one of the artists of the mural.
To select designs that best capture the city, the Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL), which has constructed the Metro on a public private partnership model, had held a competition titled ‘Majhi Mumbai’ last year among college students studying architecture, fine arts and applied arts.
Anand Gandhi, director of ‘The Ship of Theseus,’ advertising professional Gopi Kukde, and designer Krisna Mehta, were the jury who judged the submissions for the best entries.
“Describing Mumbai is something that even the best of the artists are unableto do justice to because it is so colourful that if you focus on one aspect of it then some other aspect gets left out. The murals are also bringing art close to the people, into public life,” Kukde, a jury member, said.