At the busy Ismail P Merchant Junction before the JJ flyover in Nagpada is an installation of a man filming the city in real-time as it rushes through at a quick pace. Various parts of his body symbolise several aspects of the city, with the video camera perched atop a tripod being an ode to Bollywood that calls Mumbai its home.
Titled ‘Mumbai Meri Jaan’, the 12-foot metal sculpture which is meant to be “a tribute to all Mumbaikars and the spirit of Mumbai” was inaugurated by Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray on July 8 this year. In fact, many of the suggestions for the installation are said to have come from Thackeray himself.
Zohair Diwan, the metal artist behind the work, says it took him two months to go from ideation to completion of the installation which was funded by local corporator Sonam Manoj Jamsutkar. Sustainability is at the core of this installation as scraps of metal from all over Mumbai were repurposed and incorporated into the structure.
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The recorder filming Mumbai in real-time stands atop a 4-foot concrete base which is a reference to how Mumbai is a concrete jungle. The legs of the structure feature important landmarks such as the Gateway of India. “Since Mumbai is the financial capital of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange also features on the leg of the structure,” says Diwan, who runs an NGO by the name Nobody Ever Sleeps Hungry (NESH).
The structure’s torso depicts the ‘dabbas’ or tiffin boxes carried by Mumbai’s popular dabbawalas. One arm of the structure depicts the local trains and the other arm shows BEST buses. Diwan says he aimed to highlight how a major part of the life of the common Mumbaikar is spent in these public transport vehicles or queuing for them. The structure’s fist is like a globe, indicating that the world is in the Mumbaikar’s hand.
The tripod stand is meant to depict the Sea-Link. “Mumbai is modernising and taking up new technological advancements and so we tried to depict that as well,” Diwan adds. The film rolls are like ‘two charkhas’ above the camera – one is a haath-gaadi (hand cart) puller’s wheel and the other is an industry/mill gear. These wheels are an acknowledgement of the labour forces and the industry in the city.
Lastly, a tiny man stands on the camera – posing like a superstar. Diwan believes every person who comes to this city to make a life for themselves is a superstar. They may not make it into Bollywood but certainly embody the spirit of the city and the installation is an ode to the undying spirit of every Mumbaikar.