Imagine the Oscar statuette redesigned for Dharavi purposes. What would it look like? Installation artist Hetal Shukla created the Genius of Dharavi, or G.O.D., a set of three towering statues that reimagine the icon. In three colours - white, gold and silver - the artwork pays homage to the industriousness and resourcefulness and jugaad that characterises Dharavi. 

Products that are commonly found in the area were used to build and embellish the installation. The three men, bearing bows made of belts and electric cable, stand on pedestals of tyres. Their chiselled bodies may remind a viewer of the Oscar statue, but they wear dhotis and sport a mojri on one foot and a sneaker on the other. Products like these are known all around town and Dharavi is a destination for leather bags and belts, shoes and scrap materials.

As these gods of Dharavi walk between two worlds, they bear quivers made of oil cans that contain arrows marked with religious symbols, flags of different countries, and, as a joke, pseudo-brand names, something that Dharavi is infamous for. Bata is Bala and Lee Cooper becomes Lee Kapoor. In Shukla’s vision, this is what Dharavi is all about: a religion called recycling and a mantra called manufacture.


Hetal Shukla