Artist and social worker Rouble Nagi believes in being creatively courageous as courage is everything that defines you.
Call it a self-driven, soul-stirring curve in her career trajectory as an artist. Rouble Nagi has created stunning murals and shaped exquisite works of art. But her passionate undertaking in Misaal Mumbai, an endeavor of its kind, that is radically changing the lives of thousands of slum dwellers dotting the landscape of Mumbai.
“An entrepreneur’s journey looks quite glamorous, wherein passion runs high at all times. But in reality, it is riddled with struggles,” says Rouble. There is a vein of resilience in her voice born of guts and gumption. “Challenges make up life. You make mistakes, learn from them, from people you work with. Often the obstacles we come across are blessings in disguise. This realization seeped in slowly for me,” she shares. It hasn’t been an easy ride: getting into low-income neighborhoods to repair and waterproof roofs and paint slums with the help of local volunteers. But her determination has paid off rich dividends. As a woman of mettle, she stands strong. “I believe until the interest of an artist shifts from the personal sensation to a sense of communal service, her work simply cannot grow,” she says.
Misaal Mumbai goes beyond painting walls of shanties. It brings in workshops on the importance of sanitation, hygiene and education for residents of slums and villages, setting afoot radical interventions and change. The project started with Paint Dharavi in 2016 and has now mushroomed all over Mumbai and in other parts of Maharashtra. Over 43,000 houses have been painted and waterproofed by Rouble Nagi and her team. Her passion-driven project has changed the Mumbai skyline. “I have always been inspired by Mother Teresa. The work that the order undertook, in over 130 countries, included managing homes for people who were dying, soup kitchens, orphanages, schools…her charitable work changed the lives of the most vulnerable people in the world. Her life is inspiring,” says Rouble
My biggest learning is that you cannot control how others behave and what they do. But you can always control the way you respond to what they are doing. You can always control your own interpretations, perceptions, attitudes, and behaviour. This little difference brings in happiness. Remember, your beliefs create reality. Always keep it real and original.”
(As told to Shilpi Madan)