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If you are a resident of Mumbai and a Bollywood fan, then Bandra might be one of your favourite go-to spots in the city.
Apart from housing the Khan trio – Shah Rukh, Amir and Salman Khan and multiple people from the film fraternity – Bandra is also known for its stunning murals of Bollywood actors.
From the 230-foot mural of Amitabh Bachchan’s iconic look from Deewar near Mount Mary, Dadasaheb Phalke’s mural on the MTNL building that can be spotted from Bandra-Worli Sea Link to the latest one of late actor Irrfan Khan in the bylanes of Waroda Road, fans are often spotted taking selfies with eye-catching murals.
Ranjit Dahiya, from Sonipat, Haryana, is the artist behind Bollywood murals. Bringing alive movie stills or pictures of actors, he attempts to deepen Mumbai’s association with Bollywood.
“In 2009, when I moved to Mumbai I was disappointed with the ‘filmy’ city. I had imagined visible differences between Mumbai and other cities of India. Instead of posters of celebrities, all I could see was pollution and cramped buildings. That was my triggering point. Through street art, I decided to bring the celluloid world closer to commoners like me,” Ranjit tells The Better India.
Ranjit started his painting career as a whitewasher at the age of 16; did his Masters in Graphic Design from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. He worked at a couple of companies as a graphic and interface designer before committing to street art in 2012.
Love for Street Art & Bollywood
Alongside a 9-5 job, Ranjit would often go around with his other artists in Bandra to practice street art.
This is how he landed his first stint to recreate a film poster for a film festival in Paris. He made a huge wall painting for the film Sarkar Raj in 2010. This was Ranjit’s breakthrough in street art.
Two years later, he started his venture Bollywood Art Project (BAP) to transform the city into a Bollywood memorial. He also took up freelancing projects for additional income.
Being a huge fan of Bollywood movies, it was difficult for Ranjit to choose his first-ever mural, “From Sridevi, Smita Patil, to Rishi Kapoor, I wanted to draw all of them at once. But then, finally, I chose Anarkali from Mughal-e-Azam. When I saw the movie in colour, I couldn’t take my eyes off the gorgeous Madhubala. I took permission from a 2-storey building on Chappel road and there was my first mural,” he shares.
Since then, Ranjit has made close to 50 murals across multiple cities including Delhi and Chennai and even in the United States, in South Carolina. His list boasts of actors like Nadira, Sridevi, Rajesh Khanna, Rishi Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Saira Banu, Amrish Puri, Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman, Smita Patil and so on. One of his favourite paintings is a still from Pyaasa of Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman.
Ranjit spends anything between Rs 40,000 to 20 lakh on the paints, labour, food etc per painting.
Though there are no monetary returns, what keeps him going?
“My love for cinema,” he quips. “I save every penny I can and sometimes when I am lucky, I get sponsorships. More than money, it is the love and appreciation for my art that excites me to paint a mural. As a whitewasher, I had never imagined that I would meet Nawazuddin Siddiqui one day.”
Ranjit has over a hundred names in his list of actors and movie stills that he wishes to paint, including his favourite actors, Raj Kapoor and Shah Rukh Khan, “I hope to meet Shah Rukh one day, not as a fan, but as an accomplished artist. That would be a proud moment for me.”
Check out Ranjit’s impressive artworks:
Images courtesy: Ranjit Dahiya
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)