A moonwalk on Bengaluru’s crater-filled streets
India’s IT capital woke up on Monday to a viral video of an astronaut negotiating a crater on a Bengaluru road like it were a crater on the moon.
It was Badal Nanjundswamy at work again.
And it wasn’t a coincidence that the video appeared at a time when Chandrayaan-2 has begun its final descent towards the south pole of the moon. Nanjundswamy, 39, is always on the lookout for interesting ways to highlight the pothole menace.
As a canvas, Bengaluru’s pothole ridden roads have served Nanjundswamy, an alumnus of Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts, well. There’s the famous crocodile that sat in a pothole in 2015. The same year there was the painting of Yamraj (The Indian god of death) around an open manhole. Then there was the installation -- a mermaid – an actor posed as one – sitting in a pothole at the busy Cubbon Road junction in 2017.
Nanjundaswamy says that he first hit upon the idea of using art to highlight the problem in 2014 after he was involved in a minor accident. “It occurred to me that there are many minor accidents, where people don’t lose their lives, and as a result, these don’t make news. So, I felt the urge to highlight these issues so they could be highlighted.
In Mysuru, where he comes from, Nanjundswamy maintained a billboard near his house that he used to highlight contemporary issues. He joined a major advertising firm and moved to Bengaluru, but quit a few years later to follow his passion. His popularity through his 3D street art, Nanjundaswamy adds, has opened up new opportunities.
The idea for the moon walk came to Nanjundswamy about a fortnight ago and since then, he adds, he was on the lookout for a suitable location that was traffic-free, a tough task in Bengaluru. Additionally, it also took time for the costume to be ready.
“Everybody was talking about Chandrayaan and it gave me an idea to highlight the issue,” says Nanjundaswamy. “I didn’t expect it to catch the public’s imagination in this manner and I have been receiving so many calls from media outlets that had to switch my phone off.”
Nanjundswamy, who works as an art director in Kannada films, says he has always felt a very strong desire to communicate issues through his art . “My verbal communication is poor, but there are issues that I wish to highlight and I can do so only through my art.”
The aim is to only highlight, he adds: “This is just a funny, sarcastic way of highlighting the issue and almost always I find that the authorities fill the potholes. I have nothing against them.”
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