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Ladies First – The Inside Story of a Women’s Street Art Festival

A New Hope

For us at Wicked Broz, Ladies First Street Art was a dream born out of the need to do something revolutionary. Something that would inspire and lead more people to take up the brush and accept this as an inevitable future.

MRRWA has existed for 20 years. For a long time they have been looking for some inspirational Marol wide movement to get the local citizens fired up again about making their area an example for all Mumbai suburbs.

At the same time street art has been traditionally a male dominated art form due to the physical and illegal nature of things.

We figured together that it was time for us to do something new in Marol and have women lead the charge with the most visible form of public art.

At the time of writing the first blog post introducing the festival to everyone, we had envisioned 7 days of madness led by 7 female street artists who would each perform a magic trick on their respective walls. This legion of 7 female brush warriors would change the vibe of Marol and help us lay the foundations for what we hope to call Marol Art Village. A place where anyone can come and paint on the streets and spread joy. That was the hope.

This 10 minute read is for you to know what exactly happened in the 7 days in which Marol Art Village was created. Maybe god is a woman after all. Read on to find out.

Marol? Umm..Where Exactly?

5 minutes from the Mumbai Airport, with Aarey forest on one side and the hills of Powai on another, this little corner of the world is where Wicked Broz is headquartered. To be specific, this is where Omkar Dhareshwar, our co-founder lives at Eco Park society and this is where the story of Ladies First is set.

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Marol has its own Metro station that provides easy accessibility to anyone wanting to travel by the Metro that runs between Ghatkopar and Versova. Marol is also where over 200 residential societies exist today, that are represented by the Military Road Residents Association (MRRWA), our main supporting partner for all things street art here.

Ladies First Street Art Festival was spread out over seven locations that are within a 5 square mile radius of each other. All these locations fall under what is known as the Military Road, the lifeblood of Marol.

Aadarsh Nagar has been the hotbed of graffiti for years. Lokdarshan society is one of the oldest societies in Marol. Ashok Avenue is a giant group of apartment buildings that leads to Saki Vihar Road. Roque Villa is an old bungalow that belongs to Mr. Wilbur, who has been living in Marol since childhood. Jabarpada aka ‘Kattu’ is a hamlet in the middle of urban Marol that is short for the famous Kateeleshwari restaurant which is closeby. Wall of Fame is a long stretch of road next to the MIDC pipeline area and the police training camp where graffiti writers have been bombing for years. Richard Garage that houses the Tata Motors servicing centre and the Harley Davidson India showroom is also on Military road. This is where the graffiti workshop was held.

However, the main centre of public activities was the grand Bharat Van or Joggers Park as it is fondly called. Right next to the Bamandyapada Bus Depot, Bharat Van was built in 1999, almost 20 years ago when a group of passionate youth of Marol came together and created a mini rain forest out of an abandoned old quarry. This group went on to form what we now call MRRWA.

What was once an industrial area and before that a forest land has today become a cultural cauldron where a part of the soul of Mumbai’s hip hop scene lives.

You can Google these locations out or you can call us anytime and inquire about a graffiti walk. Yes, graffiti walk. During the festival, our co-founder Omkar Dhareshwar took people on a guided tour of the graffiti that exists in all these locations and that which was coming up. It was essentially a photo op for visitors and a great way for us to show our proud heritage. Something we hope to continue going forward.

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Omkar telling the story of how Zake and a Swedish couple created this piece three years back in his society building.

But the story of organizing Ladies First begins much before the graffiti walks started. It starts with money, that essential survival tool of the modern day human society.

The Quest for Sponsorship

The biggest challenge with organizing your own festival is not the festival itself but organizing the sponsorship to make it possible.

mrrwa-meeting---ladies-first-street-art-festivalFrom the moment Zainab Parikh from our team pitched the festival and asked for donations during a local MRRWA meet in February, we knew it was going to be an uphill task.

With one week to go before the festival, the needle on our account hadn’t moved by much. Despite contributions from few good samaritans (complete list at the bottom of this page) we were struggling. Ladies First Street Art team sat down to ask hard questions. Can we afford food? Can we afford the paints? Should we do the festival at all? Dates were pushed back, frantic calls were made far and wide by our core team of volunteers. A lot of brands and organizations seemed excited by the idea but the last moment nature of our request was met with helpless looks and huffs and understandably so. Our story seemed over even before it began, like literally.

Mr Taher of Covema Filaments (angling and brush filaments manufacturers) who had met Omkar Dhareshwar and lives in Wicked Broz headquarters aka Eco Park Society, made sure his company was the first one to donate a large sum. The nice people at Camlin (Yes, The Camlin) stepped in with a sizable contribution with no questions asked. Harley Davidson India and Richard Garage both housed in the same campus on Military Road rose to the occasion and donated helpful amounts. Our seniors and co-organizers at MRRWA unanimously agreed to donate a six digit amount to doubly make sure the festival happened.

#RaniTakeOver

Laugh! Laugh harder! Laugh harder still!

Laughs echoed through Bharat Van. This was how Ladies First began. With smiling faces full of hope.

The idea to begin the festival with a Laughter club session led by Mr. Ramgopal Chancherla was a brilliant one by MRRWA.

We had over 50 people attend the Opening ceremony on 25th March. The legion of 7 female street artists, MRRWA members, Ladies First volunteers and some curious joggers at Bharat Van all gathered to hear Wicked Broz co-founder Omkar Dhareshwar and MRRWA secretary Mr. Suresh Nair speak about what is happening and why. The artists introduced themselves to everyone and the #RaniTakeOver of Marol started.

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Anpu introducing herself to the Ladies First team. (Left to right: Ratna Singh, Suresh Nair Sr, Anpu Varkey, Kesar Khinvasara, Abigail Jensen)

A Dolphin In The Well

The first one scheduled to begin the transformation of Marol was this talented veteran of the Indian street art world – Anpu Varkey. Her resume is there for everyone to see, from collaborations with St+art at their first festival in Shahpur Jat to her famous ‘Dizzy’ in Mahim Art District to her most recent mural of a Sarus red crowned crane just before our festival at Dharamshala in Art for Tibet. Anpu specializes in creating large scale murals quickly. Her relationship with nature is very visible in her notable use of cats, squirrels, dogs and chickens among other fauna. So what would it be at Ladies First?

It was a tough learning experience for our team. The first 2 days of Anpu’s visit were washed out because of a complete breakdown in communication with crane operators. Getting a crane to Marol wasn’t that easy. No it wasn’t. The New Hill View apartment building that was to be the opening scene of the festival had to be abandoned.

So what does India’s top female talent do, stranded without a crane? She calmly goes for a walk.

Anpu went to the hub of graffiti in Marol – Aadarsh Nagar with her friend and fellow street artist Shirin and local boys Dexter and Fe One and painted her favorite stencils including the her special moon stencil. In the process, she made new friends at Aadarsh Nagar and before the day ended, she had unlocked the most coveted wall in this hood where artists from across the globe have painted and yet failed to win – the wall next to the well. This well is the lifeline of the people of Aadarsh Nagar and is also home to some fishes and turtles. It’s a mini village square and the wall that we speak of is literally the most prominent surface there. Just a few days earlier on Holi, kids had ‘spoiled’ this wall with hand prints and so Anpu was tasked by the owner to do what she could to make it beautiful again.

The next day, Anpu turned up with a ladder and paints to do her magic. The idea was to make a playful piece that would make it seem as if a dolphin would be jumping into the well, adding to the already existing aquatic life. Just some fun.

In one day she was finished and children had fun hanging out with her. The frame of the dolphin makes it look as if it really is jumping out at you.

Landscape changes in one small part of Marol. #RaniTakeOver. Done.

Visit To The Wall of Fame

Anpu had expressed before she came to Marol that she would like to jam with the graffiti boys of Marol and just before she left, she did manage to make her dream come true. Alchemy, Dexter, Lobster and Fe One, all of them had a collab with her on the Wall of Fame in Marol.

Street art is an organic process. It could not have been reinforced upon the team in a more emphatic fashion than this.

Warli – Going Back To The Roots at Ashok Avenue

warli-art---ladies-first-street-art---marol-art-villageThe ArtDesh foundation with which Ratna Singh worked on her project before the festival is what helped us identify her as someone who was doing a different kind of street art. Warli paintings at Raj Bhavan created a stir in Mumbai and everyone noticed this emergence of the tribal art form onto the streets. She represented the core cultural values of the Indian art scene.

With urbanization happening, the forest area of Aarey that extended upto Marol at one point is slowly diminishing. Art is one of the few ways in which we can still represent the culture of the tribals who reside there. For the past couple of years Wicked Broz has tried to join hands with Swadesi to help promote the #SaveAarey movement. That’s why we knew that having Ratna paint Warli art in Marol would add a new angle to the contemporary understanding of street art among our citizens. What we hadn’t anticipated was that this would end up being one of the identifying elements of our festival.

Without fuss on Day 1, Ratna grabbed her brushes, requested paints and formed a small team with the Ashok Avenue residents to paint their wall. She knew exactly what she was doing. For six days they painted the story of evolution of Mumbai and modern day India on the walls and for six days the team grew from a handful of volunteers led by Mrs. Beena and Lynette mam to just about everyone who passed by that street. Women of all ages, children accompanied by their parents, everyone just felt a compulsive need to contribute. Ratna and her Ashok Avenue wall turned Ladies First into a true people’s movement.

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The appreciation later from everyone was just unanimous. The terracotta colored wall with white stick figures dancing and creating a life of their own on it, across a good 400 feet was one of the best walls painted in Marol Art Village and everyone was proud. Another part of Marol changes. #RaniTakeOver. Done.

The Mysterious Pattern at Bharat Van

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At Bharat Van, under the shade of trees on a square wall are round rings of a colorful pattern that transfixes you. There is something otherworldly about it. This is the work of Kesar Khinvasara.

We first met Kesar at an Augmented reality workshop at ISDI, Lower Parel in 2017 and since then have been in awe of her mandala skills. She draws them in various sizes and patterns on canvas from the comfort of her home in Pune. She even has a coloring book ‘Mes Mandalas Nature’, published which is a hit (No surprises there!). We had been fantasizing about her mandala’s taking over the streets like an organic graffiti and had been requesting her to paint walls all this while. Ladies First was the ideal platform to make our dream come true.

“The piece for the Ladies First Street Art Festival was simply a continuation of my fascination with growth rings or tree rings; they are incredibly simple yet riddled with complexities. In the process of learning more about them I realized how closely they resonate with my primary source of inspiration – a line. While working on this piece, I decided not to hold back on my otherwise conservative approach when it comes to the use of color. The labyrinth of details with the occasional addition of color forms the backdrop for people to embellish with their interpretations. For the duration of the festival, my interactions with people coupled with their understandings animate the piece dramatically.” – Kesar Khinvasara

Another #RaniTakeOver. Done.

Unlocking Doors Of Perception

Avantika Mathur goes by the name of WomenPow on Instagram. This Navi Mumbai based street artist spends her time teaching fashion design and doing body painting on women models when she is not on the streets. For a long time, we had been in touch with her about possible projects and when the idea for a women street art festival struck, she was one of the first people we approached. She loved the idea and with Shirin Shaikh was one of the first to join our team and help us with the planning of the festival.

The deal with Avantika’s artwork is that it is trippy. The psychedelic nature of her artwork is very evident in almost everything she does. She fell in love with Bharat Van like so many others who visited the venue. The shade of the trees in a quiet afternoon is ideal for painting.

She started with the outlines on the first day and by the second day had a small team working with her. The thing about painting in public spaces is that it is easy to make new friends and get those interested to bond with you over a painting session. A lot of folks including her husband and her parents ended up visiting her wall and had fun filling in the outlines.

“I did the first wall in Bharat Van, which is a park in Marol, and my attempt was to highlight how we are constantly moving away from nature. If you look carefully, you will find a dragonfly, flowers, and mushrooms, all done in exaggerated proportion. I wanted to demonstrate how each and every life form in the universe is extremely integral to human existence.

avantika-mathur-womenpowWe often fail to realize some of the most basic truths like if there were no birds or insects, there wouldn’t be any pollination and thus there wouldn’t be any fruits. However, humans turn so blind and selfish in their hedonistic pursuits that they lose grasp of such basic realities. I thus wanted to remind them about this basic precept underlying all life on Earth, through beauty and color. I wanted to remind them to look around, be alive, touch a leaf, feel each one of the veins running through it, get one with nature and thus be thankful to the universe for letting you be a part of its plenitude.” – Avantika Mathur

Avantika’s artwork looks organic when seen in context of the shade and the tree that she has creatively included as part of her piece. Those standing in front of it, need only listen to be able to unlock a different viewpoint to the world we live in. Those visiting Bharat Van cannot miss this amazing piece that stands at the crossway between two paths that lead to the amphitheater at the top. #RaniTakeOver. Done.

Let’s Trip at Kattu

Avantika wasn’t done with painting just one piece at Bharat Van. She still had paints left with her and some time and apparently also a bit of her trippy ideas to pollinate the streets of Marol. Kattu is one of Wicked Broz chill spots where previously artists like Rikis D Santander from Chile and Amaro from Brazil have created pieces.

After a day of wall reparation, Avantika began her 2nd masterpiece.

“For you to be empowered, you have to be the best version of you. You have the key to your freedom and your life. No one else rules over it. Be yourself. Listen to your gut. You are the key!” – Avantika Mathur.

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One look at this wall will tell you that this art belongs to WomenPow. Mushrooms, cats, eyes and yes, it says right there – WomenPow.

#RaniTakeOver. Done.

Monochrome at Roque Villa

abigail-jensen---ladies-first-street-art---marol-art-villageAbigail Aroha Jensen arrived in Mumbai, 10 days before the festival. She had been wanting to do so for a long time ever since she landed in Delhi some six months back with her friends from New Zealand. She is an arts student and graphic designer back in New Zealand and was looking for opportunities to explore different styles and cultures before coming to India. Fate had her work for the Paint My City campaign in Prayagraj. It was arguably the world’s largest street art campaign in honour of the wold’s largest gathering of human souls – The Kumbh Mela.

For months in Prayagraj, Abi painted portrait after portrait of babas and Hindu gods as per the propaganda of the Mela authorities.

She got a chance to do something different with the KinnarArt fest, for the transgenders by the transgenders. She helped curate it and set it up in Prayagraj. In the months during and after the KumbhMela she had travelled to Varanasi, Khajuraho, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Bikaner. By the time she finally got invited to our festival in Mumbai, she had already seen a pretty hard core side of India.

The wall we found for Abi was that of Mr. Wilbur. His house, Roque Villa is situated bang on the main Marol Maroshi Road and is a five minute walk from the metro station. Abi chose to dedicate her street art at Ladies First to the victims of the gunman who attacked Muslims in New Zealand. Abi feels deeply about unity of the people. Some of her own ancestors were natives of the Samoan islands. She has witnessed discrimination based on race back in her home country. So to find a wall in India where she could finally express what she wanted to – this was a symbolic piece to leave the country with. Stop fighting guys. Stop it.

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#RaniTakeOver. But for peace still has a long way to go.

Ladies First Art Exhibition

For those who don’t know Abi, she is a powerhouse of energy. She loves doing multiple projects at the same time and manages to pull everything off with a smile. She took responsibility for two things at Ladies First – Paint a wall and organize the Ladies First art exhibition.

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AcousticNinja91 aka Sreya Majumdar reppin her prints

Abi’s motive behind the exhibition was simple – Get a mixture of female artists from India to talk about female empowerment through their art. For 10 days she slogged and managed to find the best of the best with help from her friend Shloka (herself a photographer), volunteer and artist Divya Rodricks and our festival co-ordinator Dhwani Mankad. On 27th March when we officially opened the exhibition the stellar line up looked something like this – Abigail Jensen, Divya Rodricks, Sreya Majumdar, Nitumoni Kherkhatary, Shreya Tingal, Nazia Khan, Arunima Rajkumar, Hansika Jethnani, Shloka Shetty, Huriana Kopeke Te Aho, Sweety Joshi, Priyanka Paul, Shraddha Mandale, Nicole Semitara Hunt.

Each one of them conveying their thoughts on the idea of female liberation. Each of them undergoing their own artistic journey. Each of those journeys visible through their art that adorned the old washed out walls of the hall that we chose to be our exhibition centre at Bharat Van. It was a raw, rugged and retro feeling that greeted those who visited that space for the next few days. It pretty much summed up Abi’s trip in a way – making the best out of nothing and coming out a winner.

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We even setup a stall where visitors could purchase some of the items from all the artists on display. Anpu’s comic books, Nitumoni Kherkatary and Priyanka Pauls prints seemed to be a hit. Abi herself managed to sell some of her work to Mr. Sandeep Mishra who was in love with her artwork.

#RaniTakeOver here. Definitely.

The Story of the Asian Flycatcher at LokDarshan

Many girls love flowers, not like her though. Many girls travel solo, not like her though. Few girls paint on the streets, but definitely even fewer of them do engineering and score 75% in the University of Pune. Enter Shirin Shaikh, ever ready to take up challenges. Her let’s do it attitude was of great inspiration in the initial days. She helped us decide what to do about Ladies First. She helped bring structure to our thinking. She helped design the logo of the festival among other things.

On arriving in Marol, Shirin was clear she wanted to do a long vertical wall. The nice people of Lokdarshan society agreed to have their massive 80 foot tall side face of H block painted. It’s a big task to paint something on that scale. A crane was sourced that would carry Shirin up in a bucket and allow her to stand on a stable platform while painting feet after feet of the gigantic wall. She planned to paint a story about hope that she had in mind. All set! Ready! But wait! On the night she was about to start, something unforeseen happened.

shirin-shaikh---ladies-first-street-art-festival---marol-art-villageIt seemed that Lokdarshan society residents had second thoughts about the creative. They wanted something else. They were not convinced with the story about hope. They wanted something that would inspire more happy emotions. This was a fix. Street art is for the public. The public opinion matters as much as your thoughts and stories that you might want to tell. They are going to live there every day and see that art. So what does Shirin do to tackle this challenge?

On the eleventh hour, Shirin decided to accommodate the requests of the people and began painting what we now see on that wall. The Asian Flycatcher, a beautiful but rare bird often found in the surrounding Aarey forest. It isn’t just a happy sight for all to see but also sends across a message of conservation of nature for an area like Marol which used to be forest land previously. Three days of hardwork in the sun that left Shirin completely soaked and exhausted and the residents of Lokdarshan beaming with smiles.

This was the tallest painting in all of Ladies First and in Marol Art Village. It was also the tallest painting that Shirin herself has done. Everyone proud, everyone happy!

#RaniTakeOver. Done.

The Future Is Female

There was a girl from Boston, who happened to be in Mumbai. Chance brought us to her and her to Marol but it was destiny that led her to create what she did.

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“Amidst tragic news stories that illustrate women’s struggles across the globe, it is a struggle to strive for optimism. One way I make sense of it is to work on expanding into my fullest creative expression, in hopes to inspire or touch atleast someone, somewhere along the process. It is an incredible privilege to be an artist to travel and to be given a platform to express my vision. For these things I am beyond grateful. Participating in the first every women’s street art festival in India was a blessing, honour and honestly too much fun. Thank you to all those who made it possible and welcomed me with open arms.

Thank you to Wicked Broz, Zake and the good people of Marol (Especially Saritha, Shania, Janette, Cynerra, Patricia).” – Lena McCarthy

The most smiling person award at Ladies First had to be given to her, hands down. This bundle of hope and energy found the Mayur Co-operative society wall the ideal place to showcase the shared vision of a future as seen through the eyes of two saree clad giants. One could also see them as the same woman, reflected. She sees herself, her fellow woman and another realm of creation simultaneously. The piece is a celebration of divine feminine and women existing fully as we are in all of our complete power.

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Ramesh Pandit, Lena McCarthy, Saritha and Suresh Nair Sr living it up

We hope that she visits us again, which she promised us she will. Until then, she is busy painting more walls and spreading more messages of hope and empowerment in another part of the world.

#RaniTakeOver is global.

Street Art Workshops

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A street art festival should not just celebrate the top female artists but should also get the local community involved in the painting and introduce them to this new world. Ladies First would have been incomplete without the street art workshops managed by Estelle Dmello and Insiya Bootwala.

The workshops would start with an introduction to street art and graffiti through short videos. The participants would then spend some time learning how to sketch on paper before actually painting a wall. Participants could buy art supplies post the workshop if they wanted to thanks to the stall put up by Art Lounge.

Avantika, Abi, Lena and Dexter took the street art workshop sessions and helped some of the participants hold a brush in their hand for the first time.

The idea to paint an actual wall is very important since people are here to attend a street art workshop, not some regular art workshop that could happen anywhere else.

These were some of the most fun sessions for people to attend. Radnyee, our first participant ended up coming everyday thereafter and became part of the volunteer team. Gauri Shankar of Eco Park society who had previously attended our Hip hop workshops in his society also attended the workshops multiple times.

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On the last day, we requested Zake and his DIS crew to conduct a graffiti workshop for us. Wicked Broz has traditionally been a graffiti agency and for us to get a chance to represent hip hop and a different style of painting at a women only street art festival was a super chance to add more value. The nice people at Richard Garage gave us space to conduct this graffiti workshop where a riot of tags sprayed on the wall proved to be a wonderful photo-op for the participants and for those who looked closely, a symbolic triumph of Hip Hop.tata-nano---richard-garage---ladies-first-street-art-festvial

A Nano was gifted to us by Mr. Kiran, the owner of Richard Garage for travel within Marol for the duration of the festival. So while Zake took the graffiti workshop, our long-time friend NME quietly put his cans to work and converted a dull hatchback into a vibrant source of energy for anyone who looked at it.

#RaniTakeOver. Done dona done.

Street Heriones At Ladies First

streetheroines---alexandra-henry---ladies-first-street-art-festivalWe opened our street art film screenings with Street Heroines, a film about female street artists from across the globe. Shot and directed by Alexandra Henry it tells the story of the triumphs and struggles of these artists who have overcome their environment in their own different way to do what they love doing most. The documentary film is yet to be released internationally but our dear friend Shirin happened to know Alexandra and managed to have her send us some clips to be showcased to the audiences in Marol. An apt film to be screened on the first day of the festival.

A street art film festival and we don’t showcase Banksy’s ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’? No way! It’s the story of how a French guy in Los Angeles with an obsession to film everything on his camera chanced upon the world of street art and fell in love with documenting his friends. He meets Banksy and follows him around too. As if that was unreal enough, he then later abandons the thought of making a documentary out of all his footage and on an advise by Banksy goes onto to become a big name in the street art industry himself. A funny and exhilarating take on the street art.

Another classic one on him, ‘Banksy does New York’ was showcased’ on the third day. This one talked about the 30 day experiment by Banksy to take up residency in New York and come up with 30 original pieces of street art. What follows is madness and every day the media goes around trying to unsuccessfully follow him and everyday he continues to surprise them in ways they cannot image.

Thank you to Akshita and Shekhar for making things fall into place so smoothly and helping people enjoy some cool popcorn moments.

#RaniTakeOver. Action!

The Beautiful Minds

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Ladies First was all about inspiring women. To have inspirational women among us stand up and share their stories, LIVE! That was an icing on the cake thanks to Akshita and Dhwani.

On the first day of these talks, Abigail came forward and shared her journey of having come from New Zealand and learnt so much at the Kumbh Mela. Her work with the transgender community at KinnarArt Fest threw a different light on the queer community in India. Ladies First was like coming a full circle for her. To come to a big city and see a community like MRRWA organize something like a Ladies First was like a dream come true for her.

Mehek Malhotra aka Giggling Monkey, spent her time with us trying to explain her work and helping us realize our potential. With a wide smile on her face she gave sound advice for anyone to start observing things and develop it into a simple design or creative. With just some basic principles of the universe at play, Mehek showed a number of ways to cook magic onto product designs, branding through logos, packaging and posters – you name it.

Sadhna Prasad and the celebrated Vicky from Aravani Art Project presented a completely new angle to the story of marginalized communities. More than women, it’s transgenders who face the biggest obstacle to social inclusion. So for a project like Aravani to start in the streets of Bangalore and to spread to Pune and Dharavi, it is a big thing. They are connecting the dots for the queer community to discover their peers and learn through the shared experience of street art. To those who say their art is too simplistic and can be done with stencils, well, involving everyone in the process means breaking barriers. And that starts with breaking the barrier of being called a trained street artist. What an example for us. Don’t we want them to come and paint in Marol? MRRWA members already agree on this last thought. YAY!

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Priyanka Paul aka ArtWhoring, was the youngest and the most fearless of the speakers. Her story of being abused as a child and growing up to discover her queer personality is heart wrenching. She likes to leave nothing in the closet and drops her inhibitions to her audience. The fact that she could write and that she could paint during her tribulations, meant her life is an open book. Like literally. Her thoughts about feminism and all things she strongly feels about are there for all to see on Tumbler and Instagram. That’s what maybe gives her story the authenticity that people love. In a world that celebrates fakeness, she is an example of truth for women artists. You don’t have to be always sweet. A controlled honest rage at the world and its wrong doings can infact propel you to be heard by millions.

Inspiration delivered in the shape of few sweet souls. #RaniTakeOver done.

Waste Walks

Before we make a place beautiful, we should also try to make it clean.

MRRWA helped organize new waste bins in Bharat Van and also arranged for the toilets to be cleaned before the festival.waste-warriors---ladies-first-street-art-festival---marol-art-village

When we proposed the idea of the Ladies First Street Art Festival to our friends at Waste Warriors, they were ecstatic. Wicked Broz has previously created murals around waste management with Waste Warriors in Ambala and Dharamshala. Waste Warriors is a Dehradun based NGO that plans on tackling the garbage problem of the society by organizing regular walks by citizens and volunteers to pick up roadside trash. We tied up with them to do waste walks in Marol Art Village and they sent us 10 new Waste Warrior t-shirts, gloves and collection bags.

We had our volunteers and MRRWA members take part in the waste walks. Much of our effort was in and around Bharat Van since that was the main centre of public activity. Marol is one of the cleaner suburbs of Mumbai thanks to the years of efforts by the citizens. However, a little bit more effort at cleanliness never hurt anybody.

#SwacchtaTakeOver. Done.

Let There Not Be A Dull Moment – Ever!

“On a dark, desert highway, cool wind in my hair, warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air…”.

open-mic-bharat-van-marol-art-villageIt is impossible to not hum along as you read these lines. These were the words of the voices that carried down the tree lined paths of Bharat Van on a cool evening. A crowd gathered to chill after having had fun painting all day on the walls. This was the scene at our registration hut everyday where the open mic was setup for everyone to relax.

A couple of tourists from the UK took us back to the 60’s with Hey Jude! BMC officials surprised us and gave renditions of Mohammad Rafi songs proving they are dudes. Avantika Mathur’s mom turned out to be a star singer and we never knew but Omkar Dhareshwar and Zain Siddiqui, the Wicked Broz, should actually have been the Musical Broz. This was the stage where a different side of Suresh Nair Sr, Akshita, Abi, Leonara mam was revealed.

Some people got guitars, some got their Djembe, Didgeridoo and some jest went with their vocal chords and Beatboxed and rapped.

We wanted to get everyone under the same roof and without the pressure of a stage, allow them to let their hair down.

On the final day, Himangini Puri put together a crew of girls who surprised everyone by bursting into a flash mob dance. Her crew included the MRRWA member and sexagenarian Lynette mam and young Radnyee, who had first met us only as a street art workshop participant on Day 1. Their cool moves made us feel as if we should have had a go too. But what to do, it happened in a flash!

#EveryoneTakeOver. Done.

To The Culture – Like Really!

Wicked Broz is organizing a festival and there is no hip hop jam? Not possible. We teamed up with To The Culture, a platform to promote hip hop in India to organize the final event of the festival –The Breaking Cypher. The Red Bull wings team was there to give everyone – wings. The sick mat was sprayed on by our very own Marol boys Dexter and Fe One. Everything just right for Bboys and Bgirls to let it rip.

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If ever there was a closing event that was explosive, this was it. This was lit AF. Impossible dance moves to the beats given by Gaurav BboyStar. The residents of Marol applauded and wooted with pride in what was probably Marol’s first breaking event ever. MC Flying Machine (Yes, Bboy Flying Machine) was in a new avatar. Respect! He kept the vibes flowing and the battles rolling. Our judge for the day Tejasvi Patil aka Tee J of Famous Crew was given a tough decision to make in every battle. Announcing the winner was heartbreak for some. The girls cypher was won by the electric Anushi Singh. Boys cypher went to Jayesh Prajapati.

The showstopper of the event was Tee J herself who stepped onto the floor and gave the crowd a taste of what makes her one of the top dance talents in the country.

To have Marol residents, visitors, participants, organizers and our seven female artists come together was like this was a dream ending to it all.

#HipHopTakeOver. Oh Yeah!

The Spirit of Ladies First

During the festival when we heard that there were female illustrators out there looking to paint on walls, even if it was a small one, we could not hold our joy. That was the whole point, isn’t it? As we said in the beginning, the aim was to inspire others to come and paint on the streets at Marol Art Village and spread joy.

roxane-gonsalves---ladies-first-street-art-festivalRoxanne Gonsavles who had only previously sent us her designs for the Paint My City campaign in Prayagraj finally found her corner on the wall and made those comic portraits that she does best along with her friend and founder at Kreatiffiti, Shweta Patel.

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Nitumoni Kherkhatary, who had only just taken part in the exhibition also found a wall near the Amphitheater in Bharat Van and made a fun piece.

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Nikita Sharma who had come all the way from Delhi and spent a good one hour looking for a wall ended up creating her first wall piece on the children classroom in Bharat Van. This is where underprivileged kids are given extra classes by Prathibha mam in the evenings and the children were more than happy to join in the fun.

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Deepika mam, who had previously helped Mumbai’s First foundation paint the Kandivli railway station, turned up each day of the festival in the afternoons and made the front gate of Bharat Van a perfectly suited bird mural.

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Two weeks after the festival, Nitumoni Kherkhatary came back with her friend Sreya Majumdar to paint the wall of Raj Apartments with another fabulous piece of vision.

Spread the Love

For us at Wicked Broz, it is a great pride that we could be part of such a festival that has set the precedent for the future. Following Love, a channel run by Abhiraj Rajadhyaksha was kind enough to summarize it all for us in a spectacular 3 minute video. Watch it and share it with your friends.

Here are some prominent publications who were kind enough to cover our event.

The Ladies First Team

Who were the dedicated souls behind this wonder woman effort? Who spent their days calling, fixing up things and running errands? Here is a team line up. Each and everyone on this list is thanked a thousand times over for what they have done.

Dhwani Mankad, Abigail Jensen, Zainab Parikh, Suresh Nair, Suresh Nair Sr., Ramesh Pandit, S Ramesh, Archana mam, Shafi sir, Sandeep Mishra, Insiya Bootwala, Gary D’mello, Ramgopal Chancherla, Selwyn Bonwaity, Estelle D’mello,, Akshita Dutt, Shekhar, Juhi, Dheeraj(D.Krypt), Shirin Shaikh, Avantika Mathur, Bhumesh Das, Sahil Shikalgar, Saloni Adeshra, Kajal, Psylesh, Arif Chaudhary, Dexter, Feone, Sumit Roy Studio, Shivranjana rathore, Vibhuti Singh, Shloka Shetty, Lena McCarthy, Ava Nagporewalla, Nidhi, Madi, Vindhya Tendon, Sagarika, Moushmi, Puttawallu, Chetan Tiwari, Kajol, Prarthana Sanghvi, Chandrika, Mohini Mukherjee, Jenifer sam Jayadas, Aaron Dmello, Lynette Naik, Beena, Tejashree, Atul, Kamini Kanoja BK, Lava Amin LY, Shashibala Singh BK, Singhs aab LY, Kesar Khinvasara, Anpu, Ratna Singh, Arnav, Avinash, Gaurav, Vidya Acharya, Tasneem Pittala, Asha latha, Krishna, Pratima Shetty, Deepika, Amit Dhakar, Vinod Karkera, Komal Karkera, Jayaram Shetty, Leonora, Tej, Shaila, Punitha and the Young India Team, Bablu, Hazari, Praful, Subhashini, Nutan, Saritha Mam,  Zain Siddiqui and Omkar Dhareshwar.

Your Contribution Matters

Such a people’s festival is impossible without small contributions coming from residents of Marol as well those who are our well wishers from other parts of the country.

Our main sponsors were:

covema filaments

We also got sizable sums from Richard Garage, Harely Davidson India, Bunts Sangha Mumbai and PS Foundation.

An army marches on its stomach. These fine outlets in Andheri helped feed out team during the festival. Please visit them the next time you visit Mumbai – Grill Inn & More, Shaolin Express, Eva’s Pizza, Daigo, Raja Restaurant and Bar.

Here is a list of those who helped us out.

Keshav Deshpande, Ramdas Nair, Rajkumar Srivastav, Chandrabhan Singh, Rakesh Watal, Suresh Nair, Ramkrishna Poojari, VS Bhatnagar, Sunita Chitrapur, Madhavi Sameer Shetty, MB Ben, Lynette Nair, Jennifer D’Souza, Saroj Panchal, Ashok Shetty, Nalini Satyanathan, Pragya Rai, Kiran, Beena, Sumitra Korgaaonkar, Ashalata Pushpan, Paul Sam ML, Nutan Ghotge, Subhasini Pillai, Lakshmi Venkatachalam, RamKrishna Komath, Suhas Naik, Sandeep Mishra, Mary Fernandes, Prathibha Rao, Archana Joshi, Anindita Mukherjee, Jonika Ray, Annette Venkat, Ajay Kumar, Parmanand, Yerbi D’Souza, Shaji Verghese, Sujeeth Amin, Binu Varghese, Econest CHS, Balakrishnan, Sarita Heradia, Sunita Gandhi, Prerna Yogshala, Tequila Sunrise, Riddhi Siddhi CHS, Prabal Das, Hari Belawant, Aelred S Mascarenhas, Basudev Bhattacharya, Tasneem Abbas, Richard D’Souza, Shaline Jethmalani, Uma Kumar, Yvonne Baretto, Tripathi, Arun Devadiga, Meena Kannan, Preethi Pillay, Sudipa Acharya, Maria Rose George, SN Dastane, Sandeep Pandey, Dinesh Kanojia, Clara Coelho, Monika Agarwal, Geeta Pandey, Thomas Zacharia, Susy Wilson, SharinaVaz, Rajesh Bane, Ashok Shetty, Dennyson Matthew, Ashutosh Hegde, Ravinder Singh, Prakash Bhat, Mitchelle Thompson, Bunts Sangha Mumbai, Asha Bhatnagar, Sadhana Nigaun, Neha Naik, MRRWA Laughter Club, Ramgopal Chancherla, BhargaviPandit, Saer Ehias D’Souza, Shobha Shetty, Chahat Zaveri, Jimmy Solanki, Divya Krish, Alveera, Anamika Sharma, Nayonika Basu, Rishikesh Pandya.

Our team is always looking for funding to help us continue our activities and paint more walls in Marol. Your contributions on this link here will be much appreciated. Spread the love.

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