Misaal Mumbai: Artist Rouble Nagi paints 43,000 houses at Dharavi in Mumbai, says the Goal is to give life to life to slums and keep it hygienic

Artist Rouble Nagi successfully executes the project of Misaal Mumbai by painting 43,000 houses at Dharavi in Mumbai

Misaal Mumbai: Artist Rouble Nagi paints 43,000 houses at Dharavi in Mumbai, says the Goal is to give life to life to slums and keep it hygienic

Do aesthetics social cause go hand in hand? Ask the Mumbai-based artist and social worker, Rouble Nagi. She is the standing testimony of how artists can extend their helping hand, which could really transform the lives of marginalised people, who live in the slums of Dharavi in Mumbai. Arguably, the largest slum dwelling tenements in Asia, Dharavi, with the filth, squalor and congestion, few years back, the place was notorious for crime. Things are changing for good with the likes of Rouble Negi, an artist with a social bend of mind who took the call to ameliorate the sufferings of the dwellers of Dharavi in her own unique way. The artist, who has painted over 800 murals, firmed up her mind a few years ago to bring about a change in the look and feel of the tenements in Dharavi. That was how the innovative thought of painting these shanties in different colours and hues came about.

Misaal Mumbai: Artist Rouble Nagi paints 43,000 houses at Dharavi in Mumbai, says the Goal is to give life to life to slums and keep it hygienic

Through her NGO firm, Rouble Nagi Art Foundation, the artist embarked upon a new project named, Misaal Mumbai. In fact, Rouble had conceived the idea a few years ago and that was put to test in 2016. Rouble Nagi and her small team kick-started Missal Mumbai project, embarked on painting the shanties of Dharavi. So far, over 43,000 dwellings have been painted and waterproofed by us now, Rouble Nagi told The Indian.News. With the help of locals, volunteers and residents, Rouble Nagi and team undertook the mammoth task of painting all these shanties, which after the painting, had resulted in the explosion of rainbow hues that is visible from far away, stretching from one dwelling to the next in a wave of unexpected energy. “We have also trained some of the younger volunteers from art colleges in painting workshops and ended up employing 25 students to finish the Missal Mumbai within a record time of one month”, Rouble Nai said.

Misaal Mumbai: Artist Rouble Nagi paints 43,000 houses at Dharavi in Mumbai, says the Goal is to give life to life to slums and keep it hygienic

“It is a quick way to create visual impact”, says Rouble Nagi. “Our projects will also employ people and give them a sense of ownership over the artworks they create in their own community, while improving the condition of their houses. Street art opens a window for discussion and some positive news from places. Colourful surroundings will change the lives of the local community. The main goal is to give life to the slum and keep it clean and hygienic”, Rouble Nagi concurs.

“Everything should be bright and colourful. Missal Mumbai is not only about painting the walls we also have workshops on the importance of sanitation, hygiene and education for residents of the slums and villages. With Misaal Mumbai, we merely want to create interventions, that hopefully ignite some other change”, Rouble Nagi points out.

First Slum Painting Initiative in India

First Slum Painting Initiative by Rouble Nagi Art Foundation.

Stating that Missaal Mumbai was the first ever slum painting initiative in the country, Rouble Nagi went on to add, “We are currently painting in excess of 30 slums and villages pan India including Koliwada Worli, Jaffer Baba, Dhobi Ghat (Colaba), Ambedkar Nagar (Cuffe Parade), Machhimar Nagar (Colaba), Makathipura, Indra Nagar (Thane), Patil Wadi (Thane) and more. We are working in Rishikesh and Haridward and have successfully launched and transformed slums and school across in the state.

How to bring about perceptible change in the artists’ view? “I believe, until the interest of an artist shifts from the personal sensation to a sense of communal service, her/his work cannot grow. What is more, an artists’ work cannot take on real greatness until it bears the burden of people”, says Rouble Nagi.

Dharavi shanties look clean, elegant and hygienic, thanks to the efforts of Rouble Nagi Art Foundation.

Artist, sculptor and curator, what are her other activities? Rouble Nagi is the founder of Rouble Nagi Art Foundation and Rouble Nagi Design Studio. An award winning internationally acclaimed Indian artist, Rouble Nagi has well over 800 murals and sculptures to her credit. With over 150 exhibitions worldwide, Rouble Nagi is a member of the Indian Design Council and she is also one of the pioneers to start Mumbai beautification with Art Installations around the metropolis. Her initiative, Misaal Mumbai, was the first Slum Painting drive in the country, where Rouble Nagi has painted more than 43,000 houses along with sanitation, waterproofing, in addition to holding workshops on hygiene and sanitation. Rouble Nagi has been awarded the Jila Mata Award by the Government of India. Also her foundation organises arts workshops across the country and runs over 62 Balwadis (learning classes) pan India to promote education for children. Rouble’s paintings are collected by the corporate honchos, celebrities of Bollywood, Government of India, Royalties and Museums.

Vocational Training for Women-Rouble Art Foundation

In fact, Rouble Nagi is the first artist to be invited to showcase her works at the Rasthrapati Bhavan Museum New Delhi on October 2, 2017. Furthermore, Rouble Nagi’s works were selected by the President of India to be put up at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum collections.

The list of public artworks commissioned by the Government of India includes Bandra, Mumbai: #BandraSculpture; Bandra, Mumbai: Tree of Life Sulpture; Bandra, Mumbai: Journey Through the Ocean Sculpture; Bandra, Mumbai: Paradise Garden Sculpture; Haji Ali, Mumbai: #HajiAliSculpture; Worli, Mumbai: #WorliSculpture; Worli, Mumbai: #WorliSeafaceSculpture; Worli Mumbai: POP Garden Sculpture; Dhobi Ghat Mumbai: #DhobiGhatSculpture; Nepeansea Road, Mumbai: Flight of Freedom Sulpture; Chembur, Mumbai: #ChemburSculpture; Complete Artwork in Metro Stations in Nagpur in Maharashtra and Thane, Maharashtra: #Thane.

The overseas projects executed by Rouble Nagi includes the Hyatt Regency, Citibank, Trident Group, ETA, Dodsai and Taj Gorup of Hotels. “Till made we have made over 850 sculptures and murals globally over a period of 15 years.

About her vision, Rouble Nagi says, “My main mission is to educate the underpriveliged, help make a child cheerful, healthy and creative who is respected in the society and whose rights are protected. At our foundation, we encourage children to express their views and be actively involved in improving their communities. I also believe that children must realise their full potential in socoeites which respect people’s right and dignity.”

“Also the Rouble Nagi Art Foundation is based out of Mumbai, which is independent with no religious, political or government affiliation,” she says. While talking about her projects, Rouble Nagi says, “We are conducting art camps for the underprivileged children called Rounak. The children hail from various slums in Mumbai and Delhi. Our Art Camps are created to give the children equal social platform for them to interact with the society. Underprivileged children are mostly disengaged from the mainstream education, withdrawn and mostly avoid going to school. Our camps are held at municipal schools Balwadis and Patshalas to encourage the children for skipping school and the learning can be a real fun. In the last decade or so, we have demonstrated that a caring and creative environment, even the most problematic child can learn and achieve through art,” Rouble says with confidence.

Learn to Earn

Handicapped artists are encouraged by the Rouble Art Foundation

The Rouble Nagi Art Foundation believes that learning and acquisition of language are the key to success. “Learn has earn in it”, Rouble Nagi says a bit philosophically. “We provide study material for students going to school even help with their admission, where required. Vocational training programmes in Art are conducted in-house. We also sponsor education in whichever field for older students. Furthermore, we run workshops to empower women in villages and slums by imparting the requisite skills through our vocational training courses such as tailoring, nursing and computers,” says Rouble Nagi.


Rouble Nagi with the women of Dharavi slums.

Crayon is another ambitious project of the foundation, where each year, a selection of young and aspiring artists are chosen for a touring exhibition, which travels across the globe. Artists, who cannot exhibit due to financial or physical restrictions are sponsored by our foundation. Handicapped artists have always been a part of our past expositions and the foundation plans to promote them in future as well,” she adds.