You wouldn’t think it possible that the dazzling city of Mumbai could prove disappointing to anyone, especially someone from a small town like Sonipat in Haryana – and yet for Ranjit Dahiya, it was.
Why? “Arriving in Bollywood central in 2008 with stars in his eyes, I thought I’d find my favourite movie stars walking the roads, and come face-to-face with megastar Amitabh Bachchan” he says with a chuckle.
Since movie stars were conspicuously absent from the cityscape, what did this NID graduate do?
Dahiya decided to bring the stars to the streets! And thus was born the Bollywood Art Project (BAP). BAP is a street art project which traverses the evolution of Bollywood and the magic it has cast on Indians all over the country. Dahiya started BAP with his partner Tony Peter in 2012, the same year when the Indian Film Industry was celebrating 100 years of entertaining the nation.
Where did the idea of BAP come from?
Dahiya first picked up a paintbrush when he was very young, first helping his uncle whitewash houses, and then painting on boards, walls and even trucks to make some extra money. He went on to graduate from Chandigarh’s Government College of Arts and also earned a degree in Fine Arts from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.
A chance meeting with a France-based artist during the Wall Art Project in Mumbai took him to La Rochelle, France where he painted a mural of the movie Sarkar Raj in Paris, and also conducted an exhibition of paintings of Bollywood film posters, titled ‘History of Bollywood’.
BAP’s work in Mumbai
Dahiya has painted several murals on the facades of several buildings featuring Bollywood superstars such as Madhubala , Shashi Kapoor, Dada Saheb Phalke, Dev Anand and Rajesh Khanna.
He also painted a 230 feet tall mural of Amitabh Bachchan with his iconic ‘angry young man’ look.
The mural is a labor of love indeed as the massive height and strong winds made the mission a risky one, reminisces Dahiya. He recalls another fond memory, explaining how an old woman used to watch him paint the Anarkali mural everyday, later revealing to him that it was the first movie she had watched with her husband.
BAP brings the charm of old cinema glamour to the hectic, chaotic streets of the city; small pop-culture reminders of simpler times and larger-than-life love stories that we all remember with fondness and a hint of wistfulness too.
Written by Anisha Kashwani
Image Credit: Bollywood Art Project