India’s Largest Mural Livens Up The Walls Of Maharashtra’s Largest Jail

India’s Largest Mural Livens Up The Walls Of Maharashtra’s Largest Jail
Omkar via Harshvardhan Kadam

Modern life in a metropolitan with its constant rush and inevitable routine can have its moments of dullness and despair. The black, white and grey hues of the concrete that surround most city-dwellers, does little to uplift this mood. Perhaps that’s why the long but dying tradition of creating public art in the country through murals is turning more than just a few heads. A splash of colour to brighten up your Monday blues, a visual thought that takes you away from your own reality or perhaps binds you to the other strangers you share a space with, are just few of the magical effects that come with democratising art. Luckily for Pune, they witnessed the painting of the country’s largest mural, earlier this year.

Titled ‘Song Of The City’, the mural is a result of the combined efforts of 33-year-old artist Harshvardhan Kadam, Rajvardhan Kadam, Kedar Namdas, Monish Naik, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the Pune Biennale Foundation (PBF). Measuring 320m x 7m in dimension, the mural has been painted over the walls of Yerwada Jail in Pune which is the biggest prison in the state. The prison also has a significant place in history; during India’s freedom struggle the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chand Bose as well as Bal Gangadhar Tilak were imprisoned here. Though in recent times it has been notorious with overcrowding, poor living conditions and providing special treatment to high-profile criminals and their visitors.

Song Of The City is a visual story that can be ‘experienced as a progressive narrative as well as a retrospective insight about the evolution of Pune’. As the name suggests, the mural takes a river, in myriad shades of blue and green as its central focus and flows from one end of the wall to the other, chronicling 2000 years of the city’s journey. In this majestic art piece British soldiers tread the formidable Sahyadris, marking the time when Pune was the state’s colonial capital, many revolutions during the British Raj that unfolded in the city come to life through paint until one has reached the technological hub that the city has become today. But there is more for the eyes to feast on! The mural culminates with Pune’s imagined future; one where ecological balance goes alongside development. The aesthetics showcase the stylistic work of visual artist Harshvardhan Kadam, whose work is strongly influenced by comic book illustrations and the sensibilities of Indian mythology.

Image Credit: Harshvardhan Kadam

For Kadam, who has beautified the walls of many cities across India, public art is a way of giving cities a new identity while connecting places and it’s people to each other. Kadam’s earlier work in Pune’s Kasba Peth is sure to leave you mesmerised but the Song Of The City marks his biggest project till date. “Usually my murals have a single idea or thought but Song Of The City was like painting a movie. When you go pass it, it’s sheer length and breath makes you feel like you have entered an alternative reality. It also has great visibility with over 50,000 people viewing it everyday,” Kadam tells us in an interview. The Song Of The City is an unmissable landmark in Pune, because the wall of the Yerwada Jail on which it exists is a gateway to the city; allowing the mural to both welcome and bid farewell to all those who and enter and leave it.

Image Credit: Harshvardhan Kadam

We only hope that this is just the beginning of a bigger public art initiative that will find it’s way into more cities and spaces of the country.

To know more about Harshvardhan Kadam’s work click here.

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