Ranjit Dahiya splashes Mumbai's walls with hue for a Bollywood makeover

Siddharth Aalambayan

May,25 2016 18:14 38 IST

A day long conversation, some chai and paint splashes later, we looked up to an almost finished mural of the versatile, much celebrated actor Dev Anand. Ranjit Dahiya, the creator of the Bollywood Art Project, sat 10 feet away, twirling his mustache with a lot of thought, wondering what shadows and textures were to be added.

Bollywood under brush.

Bollywood under brush.

A brainchild of Dahiya, Bollywood Art Project or BAP, is an initiative to have murals of film stars painted on the walls of Bandra and around. Clearly now BAP has expanded its boundaries, even overseas, with its reach now seen in multiple cities like Delhi, Chennai and also France.

For an international street artist, Dahiya had a modest beginning to his career. He began his journey in the farms of a small Haryana town called Sonipat, milking buffaloes.

"I'd help my uncle in the white wash business and earn some extra money, until one day, a school teacher asked me if I could paint a mural of Saraswati mata (Goddess of Learning) on the main wall of the school. I asked for a reference image and that was it. Within stipulated time, the mural was ready," said Dahiya, smiling as he reminisced the beginning of his journey towards art.

From a certain someone who did not even know of the esteemed—National Institute Of Design—he now boasts of a degree in fine arts from there. "When I was told about the institute, I got excited, until someone told me Chhad oi, tree bass ki abate nai hai (Let it go, its not your cup of tea), which only motivated me to work harder and I got through it in my second attempt. Today, I am here transforming the canvas of the city, known for cinema."

Mumbai, with much fervor celebrated 100 years of Cinema, while BAP dedicated one of the world's largest mural, of Dada Sahab Phalke, on the MTNL building in Bandra. "I came to the city expecting stars everywhere, or at least some representation of the sets and cinema on streets, but there was none. That's the day I decided, I'll paint the city with murals of the stars I looked unto," he said.

BAP is making the dab, moss ridden walls of some households of Mumbai, into street art galleries, while it tries to make art accessible and understandable for the common public.

The question whether, that translation and community feeling is being generated via this initiative, still remains.

Until, then, here's the story of the latest mural rendition of BAP, quirk and emotion midst storytelling by the man himself -- Ranjit Dahiya.