Street artist Ranjit Dahiya is making it big in Bollywood City
The Bollywood Art Project founder and member commemorates actor and playback singer Kishore Kumar at Soho House Mumbai with one of his monumental murals. Here, he talks to us about his artistic process, the power of nostalgia, and founding his urban art initiative
By Anish Patel Video by ByTheGram
Mumbai: India’s sprawling megapolis, where gleaming skyscrapers stretch upwards towards the sun and the capital’s inhabitants run on an extraordinary buzz unlike anywhere else. It’s also the home of Bollywood, a century-old film institution which is where – they say – India’s dreams are made. It’s cast of good-looking actors, vibrant colours, elaborate dance routines and rich storytelling (whether it’s realism, heart-aching pathos or a feel-good family saga) have captivated audiences worldwide. Yet, for a city so invested in cinema, public adulation in the form of art is seldom come by.
It’s for this very reason that street artist, Soho House Mumbai member and Bollywood superfan, Ranjit Dahiya, founded the Bollywood Art Project in 2012, as the film behemoth celebrated its centenary. The urban art initiative is credited with transforming the streets of Mumbai into memorials dedicated to Bollywood legends. Walk through India’s concrete jungle and you’ll encounter some of the silver screen’s most familiar faces: the square-jawed heart-throb, Amitabh Bachchan, reclining in a scene from his hit film Sarkar Raj, or Asha Parekh mid-kathak dance in Aasra. ‘Representations of Bollywood were virtually non-existent in the city,’ he tells us. ‘I paint these murals on a large scale because I want people to see them. It’s street art, so everyone can access them. People are always reminded of their first experiences with those visuals.’
As India emerged from lockdown, we invited the artist to commemorate playback singer and actor Kishore Kumar in the courtyard of Soho House Mumbai. The actor, who is a household name in India, quickly became famous in the 1960s for his dulcet tones that soothed audiences across the nation. His portrait is a comforting and reassuringly familiar face to look upon during unfamiliar times. This, as Dahiya reminds us, is the power of nostalgia.
Watch the video above to see Dahiya in action.
To see more from the Bollywood Art Project, click here.