Hidden in a bustling corner of Oshiwara, Gramin Arts is a treasure trove for the keen eyes of antique-lovers
Store assistant Abdul Mohid at work inside Gramin Arts in Oshiwara. Pics/Tanishka D’Lyma
You won’t miss Gramin Arts at Oshiwara Old Furniture Market though it’s a narrow shop. The collector items on display outside break the monotony of cupboards and dressers that line furniture shops along the same street. Every inch of the space is covered with something old and vintage-looking. Manish Sharma, 42, who runs the shop, tells us these antiques are thrifted from old havelis, zamindar homes and dealers across India. These include Tanjore paintings, wooden artifacts, brassware, old advertisements, calendars from the 1900s, black and white photographs, lithographs, and grandfather clocks. There are even a few large Raja Ravi Varma paintings. “You won’t find anything contemporary here,” Sharma assures us on our visit.
Seated behind a large desk lined with a cutting mat, Sharma wastes no time and jumps into a narrative, while cutting excess mountboard off a restored black and white photograph. “My father, Ramesh Sharma Gramin, opened this shop 25 years ago in Colaba. We shifted here two years later, in the early 2000s.” Sharma works as he speaks, slipping the photograph into a plastic covering before moving to another. He’s packing items for display. “My father is a miniature artist, so our childhood was surrounded by art. He owns the store; he’s in Bengaluru now where we have another store overseen by my brother, Bhupendra Sharma, who is also an artist.” We spot a marker drawing of a face that is taped to the pinboard and a beautifully detailed watercolour miniature painting around us. Both are created by Ramesh Sharma Gramin.
Over the years, Gramin Arts has seen famous personalities like Sanjay Leela Bhansali (seen here with Manish’s father, Ramesh) drop by. Their pieces are also displayed at Pali Bhavan and Candies; retro postcards and tin advertisements are in demand now at designer stores and cafés, according to the owner
There’s a section for brass kitchenware, including tiffin dabbas and a few enamel ladles, and rows of photographs and vintage prints, most of which have been restored. We come across a monochrome sketch from March 1904 published by Robert Dunthorne, the official publisher of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers, and who opened the Rembrandt Gallery
When visiting the store, allow yourself sufficient time to find unique pieces, whether they are hidden at the back of the shelves, right over your head, or in plain sight. Scanning the space, a reminder chimes in our minds — this writer’s grandfather would say, “You’ll know lasting beauty when something ordinary-looking keeps getting more beautiful as you return to it.”
Everything about the store exudes a retro vibe, which, if you spend enough time amid — we were there for over two hours — you’ll carry home with you — from its vintage showpieces, heirlooms in familial cupboards, and a grandfather clock that chimes every 30 minutes. We left the shop with tunes from All India Radio that were wafting around Sharma’s office.
At: Shop no 7, Ram Janak Singh Compound, Oshiwara Old Furniture Market, SV Road, Jogeshwari West
Time: 10.30 am to 7 pm
The Guide’s top 5 picks from the store
Cost: Rs 1,500 onwards
A classic design of Japanese Majolica tiles
Cost: Rs 400 onwards
Calendar from Tamil Nadu by A&F Harvey Merchant and Cotton Spinners
Cost: Rs 15,000
Decorative brass walking stick
Cost: Rs 3,500
Monochrome sketch published by Robert Dunthorne in 1904
Cost: Rs 4,500