Finding Type on the streets of Bombay
An old wall in Bandra, Mumbai Ever bustling with colors, movement, millions of people, and a mixture of all the cultures in India, is the city of Bombay. It is a city where cars and bullock carts travel the same roads, where cattle and men share the same space and …
Ever bustling with colors, movement, millions of people, and a mixture of all the cultures in India, is the city of Bombay. It is a city where cars and bullock carts travel the same roads, where cattle and men share the same space and where dreams never die. It is the city that never sleeps.
The rules of traditional Indian typography are broken, and the real, bold and colorful nature of an expressive Indian artist is explicitly seen in any of the hand-painted sign boards or walls that one comes across on the streets of Mumbai.
What I found interesting is how, from the mixture of numerous cultures and so many different religions, this unique form of street typography emerged in India. It is bright, it is colorful, and at the same time it is to the point. It has this very frank, raw undertone to it, which I think comes from the very attitude of a Mumbaikar.(A person born and brought up in Mumbai-Bombay) Mumbaikars are always in a hurry, and I daresay things get done a lot faster in this city, compared to the rest of the country. I think the boldness of the street typography in Mumbai is a very Indian attribute, and couple it with colors and fancy looking designs, you get the whole Bombay street treatment.
Although, typography found on the streets of bombay, doesn’t just end at bold, colorful and beautiful. This city, has a vast colonial history, with a lot of Victorian impression on its architecture as well as its culture and art forms. The parsi shops or restaurants around south bombay and their signboards have a very different feel to it. Personally, I think this is the beauty of this city! the variety of styles found almost on the same street, is quite overwhelming!
This street typography can be seen settling its roots on the busts or the windshields of taxis to the backs of trucks and even on a doctor’s ad signage! Hand-painted boards, walls and signboards have a character of their own. I’ve seen 12-13 year old boys, painting huge letters on walls by the roads, while their other counterparts finished mixing the oil paints. I think it’s this personal connect that these letters have with the hearts of the Indian audiences that sets them apart. Even as a part of the younger generation in India, I don’t see this art form dying. It’s still very much there, and I hope and pray that it stays, because it will quite honestly never go out of fashion!