Saturday, 18th November, 2017

Snippets

Mumbai street artist who made wall-graffiti using his 'paan' spittings, sees his career going down the drain

20, Feb 2016 By Pagla Ghoda

Mumbai: A well-known street artist who was getting paid hundreds of bitcoins per month for creating anti-establishment art on streets of Mumbai is now very worried about his career options. He calls himself Raol Kasliwal (an alias) and wishes to stay anonymous fearing authority backlash. In an interview given to FN team he described his current predicament. Raol covered his face with a monkey cap.

Paan graffiti at an art show
Paan graffiti at an art show

FN Reporter: Hello Mr. Raol Kasliwal

Raol Kasliwal: Oh please call me RK for short.

FN: Is this your real name?

RK: Doesn’t matter, does it?

FN: No it doesn’t, let’s begin. When you contacted us, you said you wanted to protest the tightening anti-spitting laws, why is that?

RK: I am an artist. I have a freedom of expression. I chew a paan, then I spit in an artistic way on walls and create beautiful art. I can’t keep on doing community service every-time I am caught spitting, which is what the new rule is proposing.

FN: Why not? What is wrong with doing some community servive?

RK: Well, because I am already doing community service?

FN: How so?

RK: I create art which is anti-establishment, it warns people against rise of forces that control us. There are social groups fighting for justice for people, and I create this art for them. For the community.

FN: How do you earn your living then?

RK: I get paid through bit-coins which I convert into dollars and then rupees.

FN: But aren’t the bitcoins trackable?

RK: Well no dark-net works differently. My customers send bitcoins to a multi-signature escrow which receives payments from thousands of customers, then jumbles up their origin and then pays them out to thousands of vendors, such as me. I get notified when the money reaches escrow, so I know that customer is legit, that is when I take my bag full of paan and kattha and start drawing my art. After I am done with my art I “Instagram” the whole wall and share it on 35 social media sites, so that my customer is aware I am done. Then my customer notifies the escrow and within a few minutes bitcoins are delivered to my digital wallet, after which I cash them against dollars using some payment portals which take a fee.

FN: Interesting that you have channelized your paan spittings into earning thousands of dollars per month.

RK: Well my art appeals to my customers and hence they pay me so well. For example last week using my paan spittings I created an abstract art at a wall in Bandra where I showed vultures rushing towards a fire.

FN: Oh that symbolizes how some politicians have recently politicized student suicides for their own good. Tragedy tourism, or Vulture Tourism right?

RK: No, not at all, it shows how government is creating fires in the life of people and burning them. Its abstract art remember? Anyhow it takes a lot of expertise to understand the dark inherent symbolism in my art. Another art which I have created on the cable wires of bandra-worli sea-link shows how an eagle is flying just above a bull in a menacing manner. Which means …

FN: Which means that authorities are trying to protect the rights of cows, bulls and other animal folk in the country, right?

RK: No, no, no. You are getting it all wrong. It means that “people” who are here symbolized by the bull are raging to end government atrocities, but government is right there above them to curb any such freedoms of speech. You are just taking some other meaning dude.

FN: Pretty serious stuff there.

RK: Yes, it is. In another such painting I show a thousands of people making a huge building. Which means …

FN: Wait wait, I got this one right. This shows the beautiful efforts which the people of our country are doing to build ourselves as a magnanimous and prosperous nation.

RK: Oh for sake of God, gimme a break, will you? This painting means how clergy, i.e. the government is pushing the proletariat, i.e. the labor class to keep making gigantic stuff for them, without receiving any benefit out of it. And this labor class remains poor and can’t even buy cakes for their children.

FN: But where are children and cake in this picture?

RK: That is implied meaning, it’s abstract art. Every art has a big story behind it. But you simply won’t understand you are giving some real stupid meanings to my creations.

FN: Well, I am sorry but …

RK: No I am done here. This interview is over. [Leaves] FN: Wait, RK .. Mr. Raol .. Mr. Kasliwal …

RK refused to answer any other questions and left the scene in a jiffy. He even forgot a bag full of paans at the scene. The paans was later enjoyed by our team and to be honest they were much better and simpler than his art is.