“Belutchi Women on Nava Pool ignore the Floods”
“Belutchi Women on Nava Pool ignore the Floods” by Mumbiram
“Belutchi Women on Nava Pool ignore the Floods” by Mumbiram

Most every image that manifests from Mumbiram’s brush has something very personal and also emotional. Of all these riverscapes this is one that is more so than the others. Here we are on one of the oldest bridges over the rivers of Pune. It was built in 1920 by the colonial public works department. Its official name used to be Lloyd Bridge. But it was always called “Nava Pool” in popular usage. It is built in black basalt stone in a design that is worthy of a structure standing close to the classical Shanwar Wada of the Peshwas. It has spacious sidewalks that are punctuated by semicircular balconies that invite leisurely socialisation. Young Mumbiram had to cross this bridge on his way to his grandfather’s farmhouse on the road to Bombay.

Impressive Civic Body Premises of Pune

The building in the distance that is topped with oriental pagoda-like turrets is the building of the City Hall – the Pune Municipal Corporation. It was built in 1960 and was inaugurated by prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The festivities for that occasion went on for weeks.
Mumbiram’s father was a member of the city council and had guest passes for the cultural events. Mumbiram remembers watching the famous Marathi drama “Ekach Pyala” (Only One Glass!) that was written by the celebrated Ram Ganesh Gadkari and made famous by Balgandharva in a female role. At the presentation at the festival the leading stage artists of that time had volunteered to act. Mumbiram remembers the names Nanasaheb Phatak, Shripadrao Nevrekar, Babanrao Navdikar among others. In the riverscape you see red and white buses plying right along the bank of the flooded river. Well what do you know ? The stage for these dramas and the pandals for the audiences were right where these buses have their starting halts.

Mumbiram had become acquainted with some of the Belutchi people that had camped in tents around the Shivajinagar Railway Station for decades. These people have carefully preserved their separate identity. They dress in their unique ethnic fashions and speak their native tongues. They are never seen befriending locals. Many women of this clan set up shop on the sidewalk selling sunglasses. The women that you see in this painting used to set shop on the sidewalk on the bridge. Mumbiram has had very unique and interesting interactions and friendships that he has described elsewhere in some detail.

Mumbiram's Belutchi friend on Nava Pool
Belutchi women on Nava Pool

It appears that this Belutchi woman in red dress has willingly become part of this painting. It also appears that two other Belutchi women are watching excitedly from a distance. Nobody is least perturbed by the orange flood waters gushing under the bridge ! In any case it appears so in this depiction that Mumbiram has conjured for us.

Mumbiram's real signature
Mumbiram's real signature
Close Menu