Colour burst in a Mumbai slum: Asalpha, Andheri
Mumbai is one of the most happening cities in the world. The financial capital of India is bustling with creativity every now and then. The prime example of this is the Asalpha village in Andheri East.
Since December last year, a new project in Mumbai has caused mild ripples online. As is the case with any urban beautification drive, the Chal Rang De team’s initiative to add colour to the supposedly unattractive walls of Siddhivinayak slum in Asalpha, has been followed with breathless and unquestioning excitement.
The team has managed to change the area’s look by painting the walls of the squatter establishment. Viewed from the passing Metro train, it looks like a massive, vibrant Piet Mondrian canvas.
The idea was fairly passable and the intent noble. It threw light over things that we’d rather not acknowledge in our banal daily routines. With the objective to “change the way people look at slums”, the team unmasked the unuttered contempt privileged folks feel for urban slums and their inhabitants. To change people’s acrimonious perception of a slum, the team aimed to turn the slum into an “art gallery.”
The coloured walls of Siddhivinayak slum are a soothing sight for sore eyes, diverting attention away from the cringeworthy part of the city. That art could have been used to achieve loftier objectives. Art could ask tough but important questions such as “Why does our rural population migrate to cities?”, or “When will the flaws in housing and employment urban policy change?” Secondary objectives of making the slum self-sustainable with tourism would then have a wider, deeper scope.
The Chal Rang De project isn’t the first in the world to have lost focus in the process. After a similar project with a similar intent of community transformation, artists Haas & Hahn created a similar project in Rio de Janeiro.
A ride by Mumbai metro from or to Ghatkopar looks so much more a treat for the eye with a myriad of colours greeting one when they look out.
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