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Cafe Mondegar remembers the man behind The Wall: Mario Miranda

Last updated on: December 13, 2011 08:23 IST

Cafe Mondegar remembers the man behind The Wall: Mario Miranda

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Abhishek Mande in Mumbai

The walls at Cafe Mondegar, a popular hotspot in south Mumbai, have become its identity, thanks to its marvelous murals that tell the story of the city. This it owes to none other that veteran cartoonist and illustrator Mario Miranda, who passed away in Goa on Sunday. Hoshang Yazdegardi, the owner's son who runs the cafe today, remembers the man behind the 'Great Wall of Mondy's'.

A day after veteran cartoonist and illustrator Mario Miranda breathed his last in Goa, Hoshang Yazdegardi sat by a table closest to the entrance of Colaba's popular pub Cafe Mondegar writing on a pink chart paper.

RIP (rest in peace), wrote the owner's son in capital letters, with a dark marker pen and with an enviable ease went on to scribble a note in memory of Miranda.

Yazdegardi wrote about the joy Miranda brought to their lives and prayed for his departed soul.

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Image: Hoshang Yazdegardi, who runs the cafe today, writes a tribute to Mario Miranda (inset)
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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Cafe Mondegar remembers the man behind The Wall: Mario Miranda

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The popular cafe owes as much to the cartoonist as it does to its location -- right next to Regal, the popular cinema hall in South Mumbai.

Mondegar that has been something of a landmark in the city is best known for the brightly painted murals on each of its walls. The paintings depicting scenes from the city life are trademark Mario Miranda.

It may not be entirely unfair to say that the cafe that was one of the first to introduce draught beer in Mumbai is better known for Miranda's murals than the beer they serve.

Yazdegardi says that this was the first time Miranda drew something for a wall.


Image: Miranda drew the murals in the 1990s
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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Cafe Mondegar remembers the man behind The Wall: Mario Miranda

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In the '1990s when Yazdegardi was still in school in Pune his father Rusi was toying with the idea of renovating the cafe.

The legendary journalist Behram Contractor who knew the two well, introduced them. Miranda agreed to do the job and that was that.

Interestingly though, Miranda hasn't physically painted any of the walls in the cafe.


Image: The murals capture the life in Mumbai in vivid detail
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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Cafe Mondegar remembers the man behind The Wall: Mario Miranda

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Yazdegardi says that he simply drew out a few sketches on canvas and a few others on paper and handed them over. A few young painters from Sir JJ School of Arts executed the job on his behalf. And how!

The main section of the cafe has scenes depicting daily Mumbai life while the inside section (cheekily named 'The Innside story') has restaurant scenes painted on the walls.

Yazdegardi has been warding off media queries largely because he was too young to know what happened in the 1990s'and also in part because he says. "It's a sad time for the family."


Image: The walls have been painted by students of JJ School of Arts
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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Cafe Mondegar remembers the man behind The Wall: Mario Miranda

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On early Sunday morning, a few hours after Miranda breathed his last Yazdegardi was woken up by a telephone call from a prominent newspaper asking if Miranda had done the 'decorations in your restaurant'.

At first, he thought the journalist was referring to their annual Christmas decorations. Much later, as the phone calls started pouring in, he realised the man whose paintings he grew up watching was no more.

Like each year, the mood in Cafe Mondegar is Christmassy -- lanterns hanging from the ceiling, plastic mistletoes and lights that can brighten the gloomiest of moods.

Unlike each year though, the man who in some ways gave the cafe its identity won't be there to see it.



Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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