THE FAST LIFESTYLE, the influx of people, and cramped housing are some of the things that make Mumbai and New York sound like twin cities. It was surely the experience of Breach Candy resident Rachita Vora that led her to create works of art that connect two of the world’s greatest cities.
The series adapts the covers of “New Yorker” magazines and replaces the art with scenes from Mumbai. A couple on Marine Drive, a crowded train compartment, or a rainy day are well-known Mumbai experiences that Vora highlights.
The digital illustrations are titled “The Mumbaikar”, a game with the New Yorker and its iconic font. Vora, 39, said the Mumbaikar series pays tribute to two at once. “I’ve always loved New York magazine and its art. And I thought the pun would be interesting, ”she said.
Vora is the co-founder and director of India Development Review (IDR), an independent media platform for the development community. She is also doing an animated series for IDR called This Nonprofit Life.
Self-taught artist Vora rekindled her childhood love for art with online tutorials, including one on linocuts, during this pandemic. About a month ago she started the series The Mumbaikar on Instagram and with seven illustrations so far, she has received several requests for specific city vignettes and people to be represented, such as the Dadar flower market or the Dabbawallas. The series will conclude with an upcoming eighth work and is for sale as a print.
“I didn’t choose any typical images like Gateway or CST. I wanted the illustrations to have meaning for me and my relationship with the city, ”Vora said, citing an illustration called Mumbai by Night and Day, which contrasts the sprawling informal settlements with skyscrapers.
From 2005 to 2006, Vora spent a year in New York after graduating from Yale University. Noting the similarities between Mumbai and New York, such as their rich street culture and diversity, she noted that “both are brave, very rewarding, but also unforgiving”.
The iconic New Yorker typeface used for the cover and headlines was set by the magazine’s first art director, Rea Irvin. The unique Irvin font named after him is easy to distinguish and has strong brand recall. In the Mumbaikar series, Vora’s hand-drawn fonts are stylized in the style of Irvin.
The audience in Mumbai caught on with Vora’s series.
One of the works shows Shiv Shanti Bhuvan, a historic Art Deco residential building in the Oval Maidan. One resident was delighted to find that Vora had illustrated her bedroom window. Another shows a handcart on a beach with a selection of chaats. “Chaat on the beach is a childhood memory. Chaat and Mumbai are synonymous to me, ”said Vora.