Ms Raghunath said the idea of the project started when she noticed many talented artists at her college had been reduced to painting on t-shirts, shoes, and canvases.
“There was no permanency [for these artists], there was no real respect for their talents,” she said.
“I thought they deserved much more, and were capable of much more,”
The streets of Mumbai have a reputation for being extremely dirty, with garbage, filth and grime covering a lot of walls.
“The dirtiness of the streets can be suffocating, and it is something I feel very strongly about,” Ms Raghunath said.
“Though I am not an artist myself, I wanted to do something about it,”
“I just put two and two together. I saw a supply-and-demand scenario, and I mobilized [the artists] to do something.”
Ms Raghunath’s passion for social work was a driving force in the early days of MAD. After working out the logistics for their first mural painting; she acquired the money, the paint, and permission from the local government to paint a public space.
“Our first project in 2014 drew in over 60 people, and it was beautiful,” she said.
“Everyone that came had so much fun, and it was so magical and productive that we didn’t want it to stop, and we have been painting ever since.”
Since 2014 Project MAD have painted 12 walls in Mumbai, and have attracted social activists and artists alike. MAD’s original purpose was to increase the aesthetics of the streets of Mumbai; it has since evolved to promote messages on social change.
“When you have a tool as powerful as public murals, you can’t keep quiet on social issues. You can’t just let it be about aesthetics, you’ve got to use the tool to its maximum potential” Ms Raghunath said.
“We were very careful in picking our social causes – we didn’t want to just have token causes like ‘save the trees’ or ‘save water’ because that drives no agency to someone who views the murals,” she said.
“We wanted our causes to have some relevance to passersby,”
“We have had an ongoing project called ‘HIV/AIDS through art’, and we worked with the Mumbai Districts AIDS Control Society, where we have this 200-foot-long wall to paint. The only condition was we had to paint messages that were related to AIDS,”