As the road from Jubilee Hills rolls down dramatically bringing in view the domes of Qutb Shahi tombs, a splash of colour greets commuters.
The area that had staid pink walls has been transformed over the past 20 days into a work of art. Flowing abstract patterns in tropical colours on a gigantic scale, paintings of icons, temple art and social messages view for the attention of the road-user. The rock formation near Shaikpet nala have also been painted over.
“We like it much better now. The area looks nice and a lot of people stop to have a look before driving on,” says Ellamma, stepping out to dry clothes in the housing block, which has gotten a makeover as part of an art project called ‘Misaal Hyderabad’. Her neighbours are equally interested in talking about the artwork. “They said they will finish this part after a few days,” says Ellamma pointing to a block with fluttering laundry.
“It was a few months back when Suresh Chukkapalli of Phoenix Foundation got in touch with me and we scouted a few locations before settling down for the Filmnagar location,” says Rouble Nagi, the artist, who earlier made a big impact with her work in the slums of Dharavi in Mumbai. “We chose this area as it has a school as well as a neighbourhood which I thought can be spruced up by using art,” says Ms. Nagi.
Many world bodies, including the UNESCO, have touted the case for art and culture as tools for social advancement and achieving sustainable development goals. But the change in the society in the single-bedroom housing blocks built under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission programme will not be overnight. “We don’t expect a miracle. We are creating awareness about cleanliness and hygiene. We are involving the community. One of the women had wanted pink colour on the wall as her daughter was getting married and we did just that,” says Ms. Nagi.
There is a change in the Government School in Filmnagar as well but with a twist. It is more homily-driven as messages are painted within colourful blocks. “We just watched them paint,” says Mohan, a Class VIII student of the school. About 15 volunteers worked on the project. Interestingly, the art project has used some 1,000 litres of colours to transform the area where a shanty town used to exist till 2008.