Is there anybody who has not seen the larger-than-life Bollywood murals spread across lanes and alleys of Bandra in Mumbai? Amitabh Bachchan from Deewar, Rajesh Khanna from Andaz, Amrish Puri from Mr India (remember Mogambo?) – they are in-your-face and in a beautiful way. Most of these are gems hidden on Chapel Road, Waroda Road and Ranwar. Artist Ranjit Dahiya’s (37) brainchild Bollywood Art Project has championed the cause of bringing art outside the galleries and onto the streets. As the 18th mural – Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu – is on its way, we talk to the artist about the project, his love for Bandra and films.
Why did you zero down on Bollywood personalities?
Honestly, I love cinema, and I feel Bollywood is the biggest unifier in the country. Bollywood also fills me up with nostalgia. I have innumerable memories of watching films on VCR as a child – at my neighbour’s place. And I would get scolded at home for wasting my time back then. Also, Bollywood Art Project is my way of paying tribute to Bollywood icons. I like to believe I completed my academics from NID (Ahmedabad), and then did my PHD in Bollywood (smiles).
When did you decide to paint Dilip Kumar-Saira Banu?
It was a dream for four years now. They are the oldest couple of Bollywood. I was just looking for an appropriately massive site to paint them. The mural should be ready by the end of this year.
But why don’t you step out of Bandra?
Let’s face it, most of the Bollywood is in Bandra. Besides, it’s a hassle for people to move from one suburb to another to check out the murals. I plan to create a concentration of artwork in the same locality, so that people can see them all at once. Also, because I reside in Bandra, it helps bring down the conveyance costs (laughs).
What are the other murals in the pipeline?
I have too many ideas in my head. Some need money, some need resources that I still don’t have. But as far as Bollywood Art Project goes, I do have a wish list of people I want to paint – Helen, Rekha, Mohd Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman and Raj Kapoor. Finding the appropriate space is also a problem. I cannot just paint them on tiny windows or doors. Their stature needs to be justified by the size of the canvas too.
Dahiya’s favourite 5 murals:
Nadira (in New Delhi)