Hilltop slum in Mumbai transformed by colorful makeover
MUMBAI is home to one of the world’s biggest slums.
But unlike depictions of sadness as despair, as seen in Hollywood blockbuster Slumdog Millionaire, slums can be cheery places with thriving micro-businesses and a true sense of community.
Yet, of course, there is always room for improvement. That is exactly what the not-for-profit organization, Chal Rang De (Dream. Believe. Paint) has done to a small slum, perched on a hilltop in the eastern suburb of Ghatkopar in Mumbai.
Armed with a team of 15 artists, 750 volunteers, and 420 liters of yellow, blue, pink, red, black, green, purple, orange and white paint, the organization set out to transform the grey slum into a colorful space over the course of two weekends.
The new vibrant houses look like an enticing LEGO brick construction from afar and some are even drawing comparisons to Italy’s Positano resort along the Amalfi coast.
The idea sprung from the inventive mind of Depeepya Reddy, a Harvard-educated creative agency co-founder. She found herself grimacing at the drab appearance of a slum in Asalpha as she stared out the train carriage window and wanted to do something to brighten up the lives of slum residents.
“When you look at slums, you think they are shabby and dirty, and that also becomes a reflection of the people who live there,” Reddy told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The artwork splashed over the walls display pictures that symbolize everyday life in the slum. Mischievous cats, whizzing rickshaws, hanging washing, and powerful messages to remind residents and visitors that someone’s home does not define who they are or their future.
The new splash of color has made residents proud of where they live and as a result, more conscious of littering and making the streets look untidy.
According to social consultancy, FSG, around 37 million households in India live in informal housing, also known as slums. This is because house prices in Mumbai continue to rise and constantly push families to the suburbs, away from work opportunities and a good quality of life.
Reddy’s vision and Chal Rang De’s determination aim to colorfully transform more slums around Mumbai and across India. As the French painter, Fernand Leger once said, “Man needs color to live; it’s just as necessary an element as fire and water.”