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Down Slumdog Street

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The artist takes inspiration from the workday scenes of zari workers and women before stoves in shanties

Slumdog art, if we may call it so. Artist Meera Devidayal, who recently exhibited at Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai, takes inspiration from the classic underbelly of Mumbai, the workday scenes of zari workers and women before stoves in shanties.

Devidayal works with digital prints, oil and enamel on ‘patra’ metal. The theme in her work is the resourcefulness and imagination brought to the daily struggle. So the works use the materials of their subject matter. An artwork on the embroidery workers of Dharavi makes subtle use of sequins, while Rizwana, a picture of a woman in her cramped kitchen, borders the central image with what appears to be pock-marked, exposed cement like that of a chawl wall.

The steel sheets used in the work are those typically used in shanties. “(As the patra steel rusts), that will add more detail to some of the work,” says the artist. Devidayal, who says she started on these mixed media works two years ago, way before Slumdog Millionaire put Dharavi in the spotlight, says her work was her way of entering a world most did not acknowledge. “In fact, this is our world, that of our drivers and watchmen and workmen, that surrounds us.”