Meet the youth group that is transforming Mumbai a wall at a time

  • Oindrilla Gupta, Mumbai
  • Updated: May 19, 2016 17:45 IST
The core team of MAD, from left, Shlomoh Samuel, Raashi Raghunath, Tamim Sangrar and Aditi Monde (Photo: Pratham Gokhale/HT)

Meet MAD, a youth group dedicated to beautifying the walls of the city with socially relevant messages. This weekend, they will create 10 murals in Wadala

Over the last few months, railway stations, streets and derelict walls across the city have been beautified with colourful graffiti and murals. This weekend will see members of MAD (Murals and Doodles), a group of youngsters, create a wall mural at Wadala. Over the last one-and-a-half years, MAD has also painted murals on the walls of Vile Parle and Dockyard Road railway station.

With 10 projects successfully completed, their next collaboration is with the Mumbai District AIDS Control Society. AIDS Through Art is an initiative to eradicate preconceived notions and social stigmas that revolve around HIV AIDS.

Gender equality mural as a part of MAD’s collaboration with NM College’s fest Drishti (Photo: Tamim Sangrar )

“A wall is a big canvas for an artist to communicate and spread awareness,” says Raashi Raghunath (19), founder of MAD. She started MAD with three of her friends — Aditi Monde (20), Shlomoh Samuel (21) and Tamim Sangrar (19).

A Bachelor of Arts student at St Xavier’s College, Raghunath had the idea after seeing the maritime murals near Lion Gate in Fort. The artwork inspired her and made her realise how an attractive wall can dissuade people from dirtying them.

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The MAD team features people from diverse educational backgrounds, who are united by a common goal: spreading awareness through art. “From adding the right amount of water in the paint to taking the requisite permissions, it involves a lot of planning,” says Monde, art manager at MAD.

AIDS awareness mural in Wadala (Photo: Tamim Sangrar )

How they started

The initial aim of team MAD was to showcase their artistic talent on a larger platform. Later, they went on to collaborate with NGOs to highlight pertinent issues. MAD’s motto is to use art as a medium of social change. “Imagine getting people hooked to walls and the messages painted on them, while they are on the go. Such is the power of art,” says Shlomoh Samuel, who handles the logistics for MAD.

The group is also associated with Urja, an NGO with which they collaborated earlier this year. The shelter caters to homeless women, who were encouraged to paint the walls of the NGO. “Their thoughts and dreams were reflected through the murals. “One of the ladies told me that the process of painting turned the bare walls into a home. That left us teary-eyed,” recalls Tamim Sangrar, who handles the technical aspects at MAD.

A mural outside Dockyard Road station; transgender equality mural by MAD in Wadala (Photo: Tamim Sangrar )

Being a bunch of youngsters who are working to spread awareness, MAD relies a lot on social media. “We connect with a lot of people, mostly of our age group, through social media. We would have been nothing without Facebook and WhatsApp,” says Raghunath.

Sangrar recalls how they spent a lot of time scouting for empty walls. “Luckily, we never faced any issue in getting permission to paint murals on the walls. Initially, the authorities took a long time to revert, but it has been a smooth ride overall,” says Monde.

Looking ahead

MAD has been approached by a crowdfunding website called to create a campaign to generate funds for the team. “People wish to see change. Give them an outlet instead and tell them to show what change means,” says Shlomoh.

AIDS Through Art will take place on May 21, 10am onwards
At Mumbai District AIDS Control Society, Wadala.

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