A walk through the dingy bylanes of slums, which cover a vast expanse of area in Mumbai and its suburbs, now gives positive vibes when one sees those dark and dull hutments looking all colourful and vibrant.
The dash of pink and yellow hues on these hutments in around 13 slum areas, like Dhobi Ghat, Ambedkar Nagar and Kamathipura in Mumbai and the neighbouring Thane city, is all thanks to efforts of city-based artist and social worker Rouble Nagi.
Since January this year, Nagi’s team, through her initiative ‘Misaal Mumbai’, has given a coat of lively colours to around 24,000 hutments across these slums.
Her team has also painted murals on about 300 walls, which has not only transformed Mumbai’s skyline, but also generated interest among tourists who earlier had a different impression about the city’s shanties.
“Painting the households, eliminating darkness and bringing brightness are the secondary objectives. Our primary objective is to improve the living standards of slum dwellers,” Nagi says.
Her NGO also conducts medical camps for women and children along with workshops on sanitation and hygiene for these people, the 38-year-old artist says.
“Whether their homes are small or big, all have the right to live in clean surroundings…the surroundings which are not clean, are my constituencies. I consider them as my extended families,” Nagi says, adding that making these dwellings hygienic is like empowering their residents.
“Our team went an extra mile and even roofs of several shanties were waterproofed in a few localities that few of the slum dwellers found hard to believe,” she says.
A woman from Jaffar Baba colony in suburban Bandra, whose home has been painted by Nagi’s team, is elated to see the new colourful look on the exterior walls.
“We never thought that someone would come and sprinkle vibrant colours on our walls free of cost. I cannot express the feeling of seeing these walls. These shining surroundings have made us even more responsible towards protecting the beauty of these walls,” the woman said.
Nagi says her NGO has also planned to replicate the same in other states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, Nagi said.
She believes that until the interest of an artist shifts from personal achievement to a sense of communal service, his or her work cannot grow, she said.
The Rouble Nagi Art Foundation has been conducting workshops with over 32 ‘balwadis’ (child care centres) in the city and buoyed by its success, it launched the ‘Misaal Mumbai’ initiative to colour and repair the slum areas.
Praising the initiative, Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar said some party workers also participated in the social cause.
“I asked my partymen and supporters to assist her in the work that changed the look of the entire locality. Our team is always there to support any such cause in the future,” the MLA from Bandra (West) constituency said.
Former India cricketer Virender Sehwag and Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan had also earlier appreciated the ‘Misaal Mumbai’ initiative.