Showcasing obvious and not-so-obvious traits of Mumbai

Pan stains and messages professing love or obscenities are not an anomaly at Mumbai’s railway stations. Juxtapose this with the brand new Metro stations where large and colourful visuals breathe life into walls.

Early this year, the new terminal of the international airport donned the avatar of an art gallery. While these splendid works can only be enjoyed by flyers, the Mumbai Metro — which was inaugurated on Sunday by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan — has helped to bridge the gap, bringing urban art into an earthy sphere.

These spectacular murals have been done not by professionals, but young students of art and architecture who put to practice what they learned behind closed doors. It all began with the Metro operators organising the “Majhi Metro” festival asking students to enter the contest. The theme, of course, was “Mumbai” and winners were given a station each to style.

So at the Azad Nagar metro station, “Mad Mumbaikars” have found expression. On the walls, you find faces everywhere. At the ticket counter of the D.N. Nagar station, a beautiful silhouette of Mumbai comes to life. Various colours of the city are splashed on the walls at Ghatkopar.

Andheri was the baby of Shriya Sanil, Shamika Desai and Misri Patel. The third year architecture students came together to embellish the walls with graffiti and doodles which breathe out paradoxes and quirks that make Mumbai what it is.

“Here, we see a natural co-existence of people from diverse cultures from across the country. We have shown the obvious and not-so-obvious traits of the city,” said Ms. Desai.

One can see various aspects of city life in the drawings: overcrowding, price rise, migration, construction sites. Yet there is a rhythm that binds everything together in this fast-paced life.

Most of the students who were given the task would go to their assigned “studio” every day after college. For many, the Metro station became their second home. “We know the station like the back of our hands. We also became friends with all staff and workers. One of the security guards assured us that he would beat up anyone who spat or dirtied our art work,” laughed Sanil.

For the girls, the project taught them to look at the city differently. “I started thinking a lot more about the place I have been calling home for so long,” said Ms. Patel.

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