Mario: Wall to wall

Published: 12 December, 2011 08:16 IST | Sudeshna Chowdhury |

Legendary artist Mario Miranda's 'Miss Nimbupani and Miss Fonseca' adorn the walls of some of the oldest and most preferred eating joints in South Mumbai

Legendary artist Mario Miranda's 'Miss Nimbupani and Miss Fonseca' adorn the walls of some of the oldest and most preferred eating joints in South Mumbai

Caf � Mondegar, Colaba
Known for creating characters like Miss Nimbupani and Miss Fonseca, Mario Miranda's paintings also adorn the walls of one of Mumbai's most famous hotspots in Colaba -- Cafe Mondegar.

The Great wall of Miranda: Mario's cartoons on the walls of Caf �
Mondegar have become an integral part of the caf �. Pic/Shadab Khan

Hoshang Yazdegardi, who runs the restaurant now said, "Mario did the walls of the Caf � somewhere in the 1990s." Recollects Rusi Yazdegardi, Hoshang's father, who was introduced to Mario by Behram Contractor (popularly known as the Busy bee).

 "It was in 1990s that I wanted to get the caf � renovated. My elder son had then introduced me to an architect named Tauzer. We immediately laid out the renovation plain. It was a Friday when I decided to hop in to a taxi and discuss the plans with Behram Contractor. Mario and Contractor were good friends and it was he who introduced me to Mario. The plan drawn for the hotel was fine but Tauzer, the architect thought that the walls of the caf � bore a vacant look. This is when we drew out a plan and decided that Mario will do the walls. Since then his paintings have become an integral part of the caf �."

Rusi, fondly recollects the difference he had with Mario, when it came to his paintings. "I would insist that he put some colours but he preferred black-and-white paintings," said Rusi, in a telephonic interview from Nashik. It took Mario, close to eight months to finish his work in Cafe Mondegar.

"He also got students from JJ School of Arts, to draw a few cartoons. I remember when Mario had proudly walked in to the Caf �, accompanied by a few dignitaries from the Japanese Consulate. He had brought them to show his artwork," ends Rusi.

Fountain Sizzler, Fort
Three panels of artwork used to adorn the walls of Fountain Sizzler in Fort. The paintings were removed from the restaurant some 15 years ago.

Said Ambrish Arora, consultant with Fountain Sizzler,  "There was no reason to why his paintings were removed. We just wanted the restaurant to bear a different look, that's it." The paintings were done by famous cartoonist Mario Miranda's son.

"Rishaad did the paintings for us. But many people thought that it was Mario's work. I don't blame them. A glance at those paintings was enough to suggest that the paintings had Mario's stamp on them. The father and son had similar style so lot of people thought that it was Mario's work,"  he added.

The paintings are now ensconced in Arora's Cuff Parade house. "I intend to get them back to the restaurant now," said Arora, who fondly recollects days when Mario's paintings were pride possessions of the restaurant and customers would often inquire about the artist who did those paintings, which clearly and interestingly depicted the scene at Flora Fountain.

"Customers would actually insist that they wanted to sit close to the artwork," said Arora.

Paradise Hotel, Colaba
JM Kadkhodai (55), owner of the hotel fondly recollects those days when he, Behram Contractor and Mario Miranda would dine together. "We were more like friends," reminisces Kadkhodai. It was Mario who offered to do a few paintings for Kadkhodai's restaurant.

"He found the walls vary bare, so he wanted to fill them up with his paintings. I had no reason to say no. He did the paintings on his own and there was no money involved. He did it for free, you see," said Kadkhodai.

The theme of the paintings was based on Adam and Eve. "He was so talented, but at the same time he was very down to earth," said Kadkhodai.

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