A tour of this South Mumbai apartment filled with art will give you tremendous home envy
A South Mumbai apartment that is home to some of the most sought-after art from the Indian sub- continent is the last place you expect to find five, lively dogs sharing space with their human parent. If that doesn’t sound like a big deal, consider the life-size Valay Shende bull installation that occupies pride of place in Srila Chatterjee’s living room. Composed of thousands of tiny metal discs, the bull became a nesting space for her dogs when they were pups.
“Valay will probably not be too happy about that,” laughs Srila, “but that’s always been my attitude towards art. I am passionate about art, and I want to be able to see it, there is no way it cannot be around my dogs. I have seen the difference having art in our home and office makes to the people around me -they respond to it, they talk about it.”
Srila and her husband adfilm maker Mahesh Mathai, moved into the apartment in February 1993. At the time, the building was going in for redevelopment. It has been renovated since then, but retains its old world charm with its sloping, tiled roof and old-fashioned lift.
The first thing you notice as you walk up the flight of stairs leading up from the second floor are the three walls filled with personal pictures of Srila and Mahesh, their family and friends, taken over the years. “Before people actually walk into the house, they spend a lot of time looking for their own pictures on the wall. It’s called the wall of fame among our friends. In so many ways, it’s the history of our lives together,” says Srila.
As one walks in, they are led through a short corridor that connects to the dining area. A stunning art installation titled Heart-Beat Beat Heart featuring fiberglass hearts and nails by artist Sunil Gawde sits discreetly above the dining table.
The apartment has a guest bedroom at the top with its own trapdoor entry, a sloping roof and art on the walls. Another bedroom used to be Srila’s mother’s room during the two years she stayed with her before her death. “My mother lived in Calcutta but as she got older, she came to stay with me here. I recreated her Calcutta room, bringing in furniture from there.” The result is a homage to her mother’s life, consisting of every possible memorabilia from her life. “Even now, we call it Mummy’s room and many of her friends and former students like to come and spend a day in this room, remembering the way she touched their lives,” says Srila.
The living room is the heart of the household, extending over to an outdoor deck that doubles up as a space to unwind in the evenings. In the living room, the large mirrors on one side of the wall hide storage nooks that house the TV and an extra wardrobe space for bulky, seasonal clothes.
Colour is a predominant theme that runs across the apartment. Grey walls in the dining area give way to a deeper, darker blue in the living room. Srila’s bedroom walls have a dull, neon yellow shade on three sides with a singular purple statement wall.
Srila spent 25 plus years as a producer at Highlight Films, one of India’s most respected production houses. She transitioned into furniture design, two years ago, with her brand Highlight Living, which she started with a partner and is now working on interior styling projects full-time.
Her home is a celebration of colour, textures and patterns that strike a surprising balance. How did she manage to tie in so many elements together cohesively? “I don’t agree when people tell you what you can do with colour and what you can’t. Yes, there are colours that don’t look good together but you know it, when you see it. I really think everything can be mixed, what is important is to have those elements that tie it all in together,” she signs off.