Art at the Mumbai Metro

NSPA makes the Daily Commute Enjoyable!

Mumbai Metro Meri Jaan! by NSPANatural Streets for Performing Arts

Mumbai Metro Meri Jaan!

On mentioning the Mumbai Metro, every Mumbaikar's heart swells with pride. Finally, our city too can boast of an avant-garde transport system that ferries millions of commuters each day, while still ensuring that the journey stays extremely pleasant for each one. Strategically constructed to connect the eastern parts of the city to the western, this rapid transit line saves at least 60 minutes of travel time! The current Versova – Andheri – Ghatkopar corridor boasts of 12 stations and an estimated daily ridership of 1.5 million.

An interactive performance by NSPANatural Streets for Performing Arts

Can we bring Art to the Mumbai Metro?

After having tasted success with our performances at Central and Western Railway stations, the NSPA team thought it would be a good idea to pitch a performance plan to the Mumbai Metro authorities. We believed that by introducing music and drama into Metro environs, we could help further the Mumbai Metro's objective of making commuting an enjoyable experience. In 2014, NSPA pitched the idea of busking at Metro stations to the authorities.

Always on the lookout for ways to improve the commuting experience of their customers, the Mumbai Metro gladly accepted our proposal. Initially, we were granted permission to perform at three Metro stations – Ghatkopar, Andheri and Versova, from 6-8 pm.

All eyes on our artists by NSPANatural Streets for Performing Arts

And then there were more!

Pleased with our performances, in June 2015, the Mumbai Metro granted us permission to perform at four more Metro Stations – Western Express Highway, Airport Road, D.N. Nagar and Marol Naka. They also gave us a go ahead on our request to increase performance hours. Our artists now perform from 9-11 am in the morning and from 5-8 pm in the evening.

Aao Aao Natak Dekho! by NSPANatural Streets for Performing Arts

A Medley of Genres and Art Forms

At NSPA, we believe in exploring and supporting various art forms and genres. That’s one of the reasons why we don’t promote Bollywood music, because it’s so easily available. Whereas a rustic folk song from Uttar Pradesh or Agra, now these we hardly get to listen to. So, even at the Metro, we encourage artists to perform various genres, from folk to Sufi to fusion to jazz and blues to covers and original compositions.

Apart from music, we also put up 15-20 minute dramas. These are mostly street plays that communicate a positive social message or even mime acts that urge people to do away with negative habits and embrace positive ones.

Marathi Sahiri at Ghatkopar Metro Station by NSPANatural Streets for Performing Arts

Mumbai Metro collaborates with NSPA to makes festivals fun!

The Mumbai Metro is constantly striving to make commuting not just a stress-free experience, but also an enjoyable one. They never miss an opportunity to try something fun and enjoyable at their stations. Hence, they organize festivities to celebrate occasions and special events. NSPA has collaborated with the Mumbai Metro on several occasions to introduce an 'artsy' touch to these celebrations.

NSPA | Bandariya - Ram TrioNatural Streets for Performing Arts

Celebrating the Mumbai Metro's 1st Year Anniversary

On 8th June, 2015, the Mumbai Metro completed one year of efficient functioning. To honor this special occasion, they organized fun activities at various stations. The celebrations went on for three days and every commuter was invited to partake in the merrymaking. NSPA was invited too and we responded by holding energetic live performances not just at various stations but also inside Metro trains!

The response we received was phenomenal. Crowds gathered around our artists and cheered them on. Many were curious about NSPA, our objectives and the work we do.

Performing inside Mumbai Metro trains is an experience we can't and won't forget. The commuters seemed to appreciate having the monotony of their journeys broken by some melodious live music. Our artists were treated to many pats on the back and much cheering here.

Spreading Sant Kabir's Teachings at the Mumbai Metro by NSPANatural Streets for Performing Arts

Independence Day Celebrations at the Mumbai Metro

The Mumbai Metro celebrated our country's 69th Independence Day with much pomp and splendor. Patriotic songs were played, stalls selling ethnic products were set up, much was done to make the commuter feel special on this special day. NSPA put up live performances at Ghatkopar, Andheri and Versova stations to treat commuters to live music and theatre performances.

Tushar Maithani at Mumbai Metro by NSPANatural Streets for Performing Arts

Perks of performing at the Mumbai Metro

Performing at the Mumbai Metro is an enriching experience for us. Every performance throws up a new learning and this helps us and our artists grow. Also, since Metro stations are always bustling with hurrying commuters, our artists have to really step up their game to get a person's attention and this pushes them to keep working on their performances.

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Art for All

Performing at Mumbai Metro stations helps us realize our dream of taking art to the people. Here, anyone, irrespective of their background, can stop by for a while and enjoy good music. Also, since we stick to performing only album songs, covers and original compositions, people get to listen to different genres of music and not just the ubiquitous Bollywood songs.

Aao Aao Natak Dekho! by NSPANatural Streets for Performing Arts

Spreading Music and Smiles!

At the Metro, we actually get to see how art can spread joy in a person's life. On numerous occasions, we've seen harried commuters, weighed down by worries and responsibilities, light up with a smile after listening to our artists perform. Some of them make song requests while some hum and sing along. We get to see them unwind and have a good time and this makes us smile!

Uttar Bhartiya Folk at the Mumbai Metro by NSPANatural Streets for Performing Arts

There’s more to Music than Bollywood songs!

At the Metro, our artists perform different genres of music. Whether it's Punjabi folk or Virodhi music, blues numbers or Sufi rock songs, we treat listeners to a range of genres. The artists also talk about music and its influences and this helps people learn about different genres of music as well as cultures.

Busking at the Mumbai Metro by NSPANatural Streets for Performing Arts

So, how were we?

Since our artists interact with bystanders after every performance, they get healthy feedback regarding their performance. Very often, an audience member has gone up to an artist and told him what he liked about the performance and what he thinks the artist should work on. We also distribute feedback forms and encourage audience members to share their thoughts with us.

Hindi pop tunes at the Mumbai Metro by NSPANatural Streets for Performing Arts

Where to from here?

The Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor is only the first phase of the proposed rapid transit network system that is envisioned to stretch across the entire city, connecting not just the east to the west, but also the northern parts of the city to the southern parts. As new transport routes are added, we wish to take the NSPA to these routes as well, introducing art into every nook and corner of the city. We wish to make commuting a joyful experience, an activity individuals look forward to, because they know there is an interesting activity awaiting them somewhere along the way!

Credits: Story

Reliance Mumbai Metro
Quantum Mutual Fund
Natural Streets for Performing Arts Foundation

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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