In pics: This artist's poignant portraits of migrant workers will make you pause

07:52 PM Jun 30, 2020 | FPJ Web Desk

Amid coronavirus pandemic, we have seen people channeling their inner artist and coming up with wonderful artwork. And some people find this situation an opportunity to sketch/ paint more and more and tell stories through their art as the pandemic now forces us to stay at home.

While we talk about pandemic, it is imperative to talk about plight of migrant workers. It is important that we highlight their struggles amid these tough times.


Well, now, this artist has found a way to tell people stories about the migrant workers who are eagerly waiting return to their hometowns as the pandemic has brought lives to a standstill.


Narrating her story Falguni Mehta of how this pandemic gave her more time to pursue what she loves!

"I have lived the most protected and pampered life. Painting away and taking so many things for granted, until, one day when hell fell upon my shoulders. Having been completely unaware that hardships of a huge magnitude may happen in life, I was crestfallen, as my family always let me live in my illusionary perfect dream world. Over time however, my paintings got deeper as my emotions went on a triple loop roller coaster!," says Falguni.

She says, somehow, all her paintings began revolving around the concept of a home. "My root connects to culture and home, sometimes the modern home, sometimes my dream home!"

Well, as we have mentioned earlier, people now see the COVID-19 situation as an opportunity and so did Falguni. She said, "Meanwhile, the Covid-19 issue came up, giving me more time in my home and lost within the concept of home that I painted about. It is a blissful feeling for an artist, to be with her canvas and not many other callings."

It is quite evident that the entire world is facing the pandemic and it is not same for everyone.

"But soon I realized my new privilege. While the Covid-19 issue is faced by the entire world, it’s not the same for each. The news flashed the migrants issue, and looking at the images made my heartache," she said.

Falguni went on to say that "While I had been making paintings of homes and luxury, there were people who did not have luxurious homes, and yet are desperate enough to lose their lives to return to their homes. Their helplessness was heart-wrenching, all they could do is take what they have and move towards their home irrespective of the distance or the means, only relying on their feet and strength."

And looking at the plight of migrant workers inspired the artist in Falguni to paint them and depict the scenes she saw on the news in her paintings. Falguni says, "This inspired me to paint them, or atleast my reflection of the scenes I saw on the news, while I was still in the comfort on my home. The more I painted them, the more I felt compelled to represent their struggles through my art."

She believes that as privileged people, it is our duty to help these migrant workers in their times of need. She says, "My paintings may be a mean to tell their stories but I believe that they don’t need our pity, they need our help!"

Let's have a look at a series of paintings depicting lives and plight of migrant workers through Falguni's paintings.

Piggy back! It’s a part of every father daughter relation. So what if the daughter is hungry, the father has no money, water is barely available, and the journey to home is never ending! Maa, don’t lose hope! We will walk all the way.. We won’t ask for food.. We won’t ask you to carry us.. And we will reach home, one day! They say safety is at home and not outside. Do they know my entire living is outside? Where I carry the weight of cement and bricks to build those safe homes. My desire is to go to my home and I will do what it takes. If I have to carry my daughter all the way, I’ll do that too..whatever it takes. I showed you many dreams of the city, but this dream city has suddenly left us nowhere.. I know you are dreaming about our home in the village, And I hope I can take you back home, and I’ll try my best to make sure, That atleast this dream should come true! I was on my way to home, to you.. I could not bring toys, but was saving the roti for you. I left the city, I travelled so far, so tired, so worn out.. But yearning to see the smile on your face is what kept me going. But I could never reach you..I travelled too far! Temple, Church or Mosque, have shut their doors. None of them could feed me, give me shelter or any money. Today, my God is this train, I bow down to thank you to finally take me to my home.. as I cannot deal with this selfish world! This is nothing new, I have seen a scene like this so many times in the zoo. People offering the 5 rupee banana to the monkeys. Oops, but a little difference here, behind the bars are also people! People who we think are less deserving. We can have exotic Thai curry for dinner. They should be fine with a banana!Of course I have done fielding! At home, in the fields, then when I reached the city with my family, I helped carrying out rocks at construction fielding sites. But today, all my fielding instincts and concentration had better work, if I miss on this banana that is thrown at me, I will have to stay hungry for the next 32 hours, as it is the only food I will see on this journey! No no, I have not painted a scene from world war, and these are not dead bodies! These are the silly people, who want to go to their homes not caring about anything but following the rules, wearing their masks at all times. So what if they are either under or over someone.. their only hope is to reach home at least! A thousand kilometres is nothing, when a mother is out to save her little ones life. So what if it’s to be covered by an ordinary cycle, with a few rupees in her sack, and her baby tied to her while the sun shines so bright!I don’t have shelter, hope, help or money in the city. But that is no reason to abandon my mother. The love for her has nothing to do with materialistic needs. I shall carry her to sanity and life! There is a disease that kills people and we can catch it from anyone. So they say we must stand a little away from each other. But bhai, I don’t think I will die of that disease. Because hunger will kill me before that!

Falguni Mehta is an independent artist based in Mumbai, you can check her artworks at - and on her Instagram @falgu14571

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