Mumbai Art Street: Once a den of anti-socials, this stretch beneath Sion Trombay flyover now salutes Annabhau Sathe

A 200-metre-stretch below the Sion Trombay flyover once used to be a den for the local miscreants but now it reflects the literary works of writer, poet and social reformer Lok Shahir Sahitya Ratna Annabhau Sathe through paintings and murals that are solely based on the theme of life and character of the social-reformer.

As a part of beautification for this erstwhile abused space, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) painted the walls and pillars adjoining the surrounding of this small land parcel with vibrant colours. Thus, showcasing portraits of Sathey and of course the characters from his literary works as well.

Here one can see a life-sized portrait of Sathe’s greatest creation Fakir, who in the titular novel fights for the oppressed during the erstwhile British Raj. One can also see several other murals, depicting many more fictional characters from Sathe’s creations from the novel Kurup, followed by similar murals from the novels Dewat and Manacha Mujra.

Officials of the BMC, who helmed this project, say that the primary objective of painting murals on Sathe’s theme was to raise awareness about his literary works and social reforming activities amongst the youth of the country.

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The official points out that the murals have been created beneath the flyover, adjacent to the Ghatkopar Link Road junction.

“After every 10-15 minutes, hundreds of vehicles stop at this signal for 120 seconds due to traffic. If one peeps out of their window, the first thing they will see are these murals. This will give them time to reflect and recognise who Annabhau Sathe was and what contribution he made towards the progress of our state,” said an official associated with this project.

The officials added that the idea of this project was first conceived during the lockdown in August 2020, which saw Sathe’s 100th birth anniversary. The project was initiated in a phased manner.

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“The basic idea was to transform the open space under the flyover. Earlier there were criminal incidents reported from the particular spot since it was poorly lit and was filled with garbage and abandoned vehicles. Miscreants would do all sorts of illegal activities behind those piles of garbage,” said the official.

“We cleared that space and installed metal barricades to keep the miscreants away. After that we decided to paint it on the theme of Annabhau Sathe. Now in the next phase we will install gym equipment and create garden-like seating areas,” the official said.

Anna Bhau Sathe was a social reformer, folk poet who was born in the Wategaon village in Sangli District of Maharashtra. Sathe was born Tukaram Bhaurao Sathe and with time and rising popularity earned his title ‘Annabhau’ which means elder brother or brother for all. Throughout his literary career, Sathe has written more than 35 novels along with various plays and Powadas (Marathi Poetry).

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Sathe played a pivotal role in the Samayukta Maharashtra movement. He died on July 18, 1969.