Lonely Planet Writer

A slum in Mumbai was given a make-over to look like the Positano of India

Add a dash of colour to anything drab and it takes on a new life. A group of artists and volunteers have done exactly that to a slum in Mumbai by painting its walls with murals in vivid shades of green, blue, red, pink, purple and yellow.

The village from a distance. Image by Chal Rang De

Perched on a small hilltop, the slum in the eastern suburb of Ghatkopar was transformed over two weekends in December by 15 artists, 750 volunteers and 420 litres of paint in an initiative undertaken by the non profit organisation ‘Chal Rang De’ (translatation: Let us Colour).

Chal Rang De aims to empower the slum villagers. Image by Pallavi Pasricha

From a distance, it now resembles little pieces of Lego land and the effect is so dramatic that some are calling it Mumbai’s version of Italy’s vibrant Positano resort.

Some of the  750 volunteers who worked painting over two weekends. Image: Chal Rang De

CEO of Chal Rang De, Dedeepya Reddy, told Lonely Planet News that they chose this slum because it was a place that people always noticed. “We saw it when we travelled on the metro. This is also one of the first places you spot when you land in Mumbai and it made many people feel that this city is a place full of slums. We wanted to change that impression so we chose one of the areas where that would be highly visible.”

Colour has the power to create change, according to the charitable organisers. Image by Chal Rang De

The artwork splashed across the 174 walls reflects the lives of the people who stay here and communicates a message to both old and young and was the result of brainstorming by professional artists and novice painters. The 17 murals on the walls vary from a colourful auto rickshaw which many people drive, a mischievous cat inspired by a resident’s pet, a bright blue wall that lists out things to do in Mumbai and an astronaut meant to encourage kids to dream big.

From a distance, the village resembles little pieces of Lego land. Image by Chal Rang De

The result is not just a prettier place but a cleaner one too as people have become proud of where they live and conscious of not littering. Pushpraj Reddy who has been living there for 29 years told Lonely Planet News, “I notice many people walking with a smile on their face after they see the paintings. Its definitely a happier and more positive place now.”

The artwork is splashed across over 170 walls. Image by Chal Rang De

The painting of the slum in Mumbai is part of a wider street art movement in public spaces in cities like Mumbai and New Delhi.

The slum in the eastern suburb of Ghatkopar is visible from the metro. Image by Pallavi Pasricha

“Chal Rang De” is shortly undertaking another project to paint a slum in the suburb of Bandra. It also plans to start tours and walks for visitors to the Ghatkopar slum by the end of January. The residents say they are waiting to welcome people with open arms.