The Wall Project: Boycott Aladin, Canvas, Gair & London Dreams For Boorish Publicity Actions

About two months back, I wrote about the exciting experience of being part of The Wall Project in Mumbai. A BMC initiative, a number of citizens turned out to beautify and place their own mark on the wall running along Tulsi Pipe Road, between Mahim and Matunga Road.

Yesterday, we commenced on Phase II of the drive, this time taking the street art concept to Lower Parel, opposite Phoenix Mills and simultaneously pulling off the cause of education-through-art with The Alphabet Project at the Mahim end of the same road. I was waiting to collate all the photographs that are still appearing across the net, to write the post about it.

Then earlier this evening, we discovered that a different sort of vandalism had happened. Movie posters of Aladin, Canvas and Gair have turned up, pasted over the paintings, less than 24 hours later. I’m rusty on the legalities of these movie advertisements that appear all over the city. All I can say is that Wall Project was a BMC initiative and certainly not meant to be a backdrop for the marketing of Bollywood.


As outrage spreads across Twitter, even as I write, Ritesh Deshmukh and Sujoy Ghosh have been notified and have both issued apologies. But an apology I say, is not enough. It is enough of effort getting past the apathy of citizens to drive forward something like The Wall Project. Asking people to come out of their houses on a Sunday and spend a searingly hot day painting a rough wall for free is not an easy task. So much for the so-called indifference of this city, the numbers of people that turned out are testimony to the fact that Mumbaikers do indeed care. But after such an episode, would a citizen want to take the initiative?

My guess is that this will boil down to #wallproject becoming a popular Twitter topic for a few days; there will be a few media mentions about the outrage of social media users after a citizen drive and a clean-up PR effort with apologies by the people in the limelight. At some level, I expect some poor poster-paster will get yelled at or even lose his job. Is the onus of this to be laid on him? No, I say, the onus of this must be borne by the people who well understand the power of advertising and publicity, the people with the moolah, the people who have the most to gain from publicity, of any sort. Blaming the poster company or the person who put up the posters is not enough; the responsibility lies with the people who gain from the effort of the publicity. I say turn that idea around and make sure that the negative publicity hurts right where it should. Every person who stands to gain from the movies’ good collections holds responsibility for the end result and hence must bear the consequences of such an action.

See the before and after pictures courtesy @wanderblah

London Dreams

If this is our city and its state is our concern, we have the right to stay outraged. I say, boycott the movies Aladin, Canvas, Gair and London Dreams, whose posters vandalize a community drive. Commissioning those posters not only hurts the sentiments of those whose painted walls have been covered, it cocks-a-snook at the Mumbaiker while saying,

To hell with your sensibilities. Advertising my movie is more important. I don’t care if a citizen effort that managed to raise such civic consciousness so successfully, is scuttled.

If you participated in The Wall Project or know someone who did, add value to that effort by passing this message on. If you are a blogger or a Twitter user, re-tweet this, blog about it, link to other posts about this. If you are reading this at all, you probably have access to the internet and a mobile phone. Use them to pass on the message. Spread the outrage, it needs to be felt.

34 thoughts on “The Wall Project: Boycott Aladin, Canvas, Gair & London Dreams For Boorish Publicity Actions

  1. Idea… mistakes happen. I would have been really pissed if there was evidence that this was done to purposely create controversy. But that isn’t the case… is it?

    1. @Annkur: The ‘mistakes happen’ attitude is what we also know as ‘chalta hai’. Aren’t you tired of living in a dirty city and being called apathetic? And the one time the city decides to sit up and do something concrete about it (you can’t deny The Wall Project is a great idea and was marvelously executed), we’re swallowed by more apathy. It’s time to say ‘No, this is not okay any more.’ The people at the top are educated, affluent people. If they are this apathetic and shrug off the blame saying ‘They didn’t know’, then where are things to go?

  2. this is no mistake.. we should not only boycott these movies.. but actually try a drive on to stop putting these posters over every bloody wall that there is!!

    sometimes, you are unable to see even the sign “stick no bills” on the wall with so many posters on them!!

  3. Simithy,

    I hate vandalism and the way there is no respect for public property in our country.

    Sticking posters over someone’s art is sad too, I feel for those whose work has been lost.


    a) Vandalism is if the damage is intended.
    Imagine 18 year old sunil, he gets up a 3 AM and sticks posters in the semi darnes of the dawn, everyday, just like yesterday. He problalby doesnt know that sticking bills on some walls is forbidden, he is doing his job.How is he a vandal?

    b) Whos stands to lose the most?
    Sunil does, because no actor or ad agency will take the responsibility, everyone will be apologetic and very sad, and will fire the poster wallah.

    sure, maybe the next time the ad agency will give strict instructions about where to put up the bills, but is collateral damage acceptable?

    is it alright to harm a few for the greater good?

    Dont be hasty, think through this, people like you who have influential voices must be careful about what happens as a result of your choices.

    You want better civic sense, dont take the boycott culture out of context and divorce it from resposibility and education, and most importantly dont forget who stands to lose the most by your actions.



    1. @Anand: The Wall Project managed to overcome the so-called apathy of Mumbaikers to the state of their own city. Putting up these posters may not have been intentional and that by very definition, is more apathy. I fully get what you are saying about the plight of the poster-boy. Which is why I think the consequences should be borne by the people who actually stand to benefit from all this publicity – the producers, actors and distributors. A boycott of the movies will make a dent in the takings, which makes the point that the moviegoer is not going to stand for callousness at any point. As a member of the movie-watching public, I say that I will not fund the business of people who shrug their shoulders and say, “Oops, I didn’t know.” If they gain from that ticket I buy, they must make it their business to know what will hurt my sentiments. It’s just good business practice.

  4. With all due respect to all of u guys who worked on the Wall project, I completely agree with Anand’s viewpoint!

  5. ignorance is never an excuse ….

    it is the duty of those who assign him work to tell him about which all walls he should post the notice and which all he should avoid..

    1. @indian: I don’t agree with that viewpoint. My concern is that the brunt of this action should not be borne by the lowest rung in the ladder, but taken to where it really belongs – the top.

  6. @indian,

    Ignorance is a very acceptable excuse in many things. you dont beat up your child for breaking things do you? hope not.

    True, It is the boss responsibility, and the boys to take care, but you see, neither of them know they are supposed to do it, because thats how it always has been.

    1. @Anand: Ignorance is not an excuse to break the law – this is a point of law, incidentally. The people investing money in producing, directing and making movies are not children. They are businesspeople and they gain tremendously from publicity and the eventual high takings of a movie. It is preposterous for them to say that they didn’t know what was being done. Would you as easily pass up the board of a company that was found guilty of fraudulent practices? Responsibility lies with the higher echleons. If the boys at the bottom don’t know, who else’s job is it to educate and monitor their actions?

  7. @indian

    So challenge status quo, not by a juvenile show of strength, but by real activism, the kind that empowers those who need it them most.

  8. without punishing at least one for damaging public property no one will ever take care of the public property…

    if activism had ever won we would not have seen those posters up there.. sometimes show of strength is also needed..

    The Best Protest for the issue is every Indian should boycott those movies whose posters have been posted on the wall Unless they say sorry and remove the posters. That will make someone responsible to act properly and will make sure they take proper care from next time ..

  9. i think wht happened is wrong…but it is a mistake by the promoters and not the producers…..though i think they have come out and apolozised and we should take their apology…i really felt sad seeing the posters on those beaufiful painted walls but it happens sometimes and they have not done it purposely…common guys move on….

    1. @jigar: The point is not these posters. The point is that a few days after these posters come down, more will come up in their place. The point is that there is no sense of accountability but plenty of apathy among the people who fund these actions…simply because the response is predictable. A big hoohaa for a bit, a PR cleaning effort and then all back to normal. The point is to make it so anyone breaking the law will think twice about it. The point is that the people who stand to gain, must be willing to bear the consequences of their actions. Ignorance or ‘I didn’t mean to do it’ is no excuse.

  10. I’ve just read through all these comments and I have to say, I think the only point of consensus is that it’s a shame that such beautiful art and hard work went to waste.

    While I’m glad that Anand put forward the plight of the poster boy following this outrage, I agree with Idea Smith on the actual outcome of things. Truth is, whether or not these movies are boycotted, chances are that those poor lads will lose their jobs and less important heads will roll.

    Boycotting the movies will probably have the big wigs sit up and take notice – it won’t matter if they fire their poster boys or not, they WILL have to face the heat if such a wide-scale public action is taken.

    Mistakes do happen, but the problem is that they happen over and over again and tomorrow, it may have worse consequences.

    The key to resolving this is to actually target the people who made this happen. Not the poster boy, not the ad agency, not the marketing/promo managers of these movies. I work in advertising and I never know where my ads will show up. The promo guy has probably just been told which areas should have the ads up while the actors themselves…well.

    My point is, we don’t need to make the film honchos to go down on their knees to apologize, we don’t need marketing, advertising, printer jobs to be lost, we just to to generally make people aware that this sorta thing is simply not done. Frankly, I don’t know how effective it will be to target the movie makers….do you think they’ll change society for us if they change their attitudes? Do you think there won’t be something else that will be ruined to make way for something else? WE, the people, WE have to change. Boycotting the movies just means that your blaming some people. Blame ourselves. It’s our attitudes that leads to this. And those actors, directions, poster boys and marketing managers are just like US. We’re talking about artful walls being vandalized and raising a hue and cry. When someone pees on the wall, is THAT okay? How about the guy who sat and painted that wall, planted flowers along it etc. etc.? Isn’t that effort enough. Wouldn’t you call that vandalism of sorts? We can’t blame anyone because honestly? There is no one single person to blame. So, cliched as this might sound, please ask yourselves: If we want the world to change, why not start with ourselves?

    1. @Ashtranaut: By ‘start with ourselves’, do you mean that we stop being indifferent to such events? I’d hope so since you seem to agree with my proposal to boycott.

  11. I agree with Anand, IdeaSmith you’re blowing it out of proportion. First try and understand what has happened and who has done. Rather than simply taking the whole ship down. You’re blame game is taking down people who might not even be aware of this ugly doings.

    1. @smith: Read my post again. I am not playing a blame game but trying to direct responsibility where it lies. The people who are not aware of these ugly doings should indeed be aware since they pay out money for it and also gain tremendously from these actions, illegal and uncivic as they may be. Ignorance does not excuse their actions.

  12. Why don’t you leave a comment on Amitabh Bachchan’s blog? He has been doing a lot of posts on the publicity for Aladin…and keep leaving comments til he responds

    1. @Uttara: I believe some of the others in the movement have been trying to contact him. A friend has also organized a peaceful protest at the Wall sites itself. Some other friends have reached out to the media and various contacts in the industry to make this point. All of us are doing what we can to bring this message across that we won’t be indifferent to uncivic activities anymore but will take an active responsibility for beautifying our city.

  13. Of course what has happened is wrong, of course we should be outraged and yes we should do all we can to make the the guys who have done this pay, consumer boycott is potent tool and its time learnt to wield it effectively. I like what Uttara said, leave get the Bog B to respond to it.
    On a slightly different note, the pics that you have put up are such a apt and strident testimony of not only this one instance but a trope for what Bollywood is doing to art forms of India. I am no traditionalist, who harks back to some ideal past but it is the huge power and pelf of bollywood, exercised through its very well-oiled marketing machinery that ensures that millions of people are creating their ‘cultural identity’ now through trashy bollywood. The way Bollywood has eaten into hundreds of art forms and folk cultures, amounts to the criminal. No one can stop change but today Bollywood has so much money power and pelf that it needs citizen interventions to make it accountable. Go for it I say.

    1. @Colin: That’s supportive, thank you. Please do join us in the boycott of the aforementioned films if you believe in this principle. I don’t personally have anything against Bollywood. If anything I believe it is a medium of local pop culture which enjoys mass appeal. But this sort of callous and blatant encroachment must be stopped and we hope to be able to do that with this movement.

  14. Why to Boycott these movies ?

    Fuck the BMC ! can you do that ? – Dear public.
    that’s the reason you have these idea of Boycotting hte movies.

    Its the BMC who permits & restricts the Movie wala’s for MONEY.

    Chad jao BMC ke us officer pe jisne Designers ko contract diya .

    if BMC cant respect Designer then we will not server them in future – BMC sucks.

    Who is that BMC officer ?
    tell me the name.

    1. @Rajc: Who is the dear public you refer to? Are you not a part of them? Also, what is the BMC’s job? To keep the streets of the city clean and habitable for all of us, right? They’re doing a mighty fine job of it, from what I can see, especially after their superb organization of The Wall Project. The citizens need to take responsibility as well instead of coming back and messing up where they’ve cleaned up. The posters were not commissioned by a BMC officer but were illegal.

  15. @IdeaSmith: I’m very sorry but I can’t honestly say that I’m in for the boycott move – not that I think it is a wrong reaction or anything of the sort, but more so because I doubt that it will have very permanent or far-reaching consequences. Perhaps getting a reaction from Big B on his blog will convince more people, at least his ardent followers. So really, I don’t agree with it for no reason but I doubt the real fruitfulness of such an action beyond a lot of people talking about it and the media going mad over it.

    I do however agree with you absolutely on the other point. We must stop being indifferent. But in that, is where we must start within oneself. Once I, me, myself, realise what is wrong or right, good or bad and start acting thus, then I’m perfectly in position to speak out. I know this must sound very idealistic, but if you stop to think about isn’t all that hard. If I were to change a small bad habit I had (say throwing that gum wrapper on the street), tomorrow, I could convincingly (the power of practicing what you preach!) stop four other people from doing it. So when I say we should change ourselves, I mean we should change our own attitudes and by doing so, affect the same change in others around us. If you stop spitting in the street, with a clear conscience, set out to make others do the same. Because you’re talking about big vandalism here – a community’s wall destroyed. But the truth is that most likely, every single person in that community has destroyed something or the other themselves – be it with paan juice or a gum wrapper. I really think that if people started paying attention to the smaller things and change themselves, it automatically changes the attitudes of those around them. The maid who comes into my house won’t dump the garbage on my street, the phoolwalla at the corner won’t toss extra wrapping into the wind, the teenager next door won’t spray paint my fence…and as a result, the general passer-by won’t pee on my wall, what with all these super civic neighbours I have keeping my neighbourhood clean…unconsciously aping my own actions.

    And before anyone disses this as ideological mumbo jumbo πŸ˜€ let me tell you that I’ve done this. I’ve seen this theory in practice. Almost as simple as when you smile at two people and make their day, and then they smile at four more each and make theirs! The problem is that people usually want a quick action to engender a long-term solution. Yes, this might be a long process, changing our attitude, but it has to happen…eventually it WILL happen. And when it does, it will make all the difference. So why not start now? IdeaSmith, and everyone who has contributed here, I think it’s great that you have risen in arms against injustice and I wish that any action you take against it is successful. But I only hope that you see the wisdom in “wishful, idealistic solutions” such as this one.

    …I think the world could use a lil’ hope for change. πŸ™‚

  16. movie postering on walls should be banned everywhere, its disgusting misuse of public property. espacially after this misuse on the wall project property, they should be fined and warned not to put up such posters on other walls.

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