Ten-Second Takeaway

Hidden in the bylanes of Ali Umar Street in ‘Old Mumbai’ is a tiny, run-down shop owned by Mukhtar bhai, by the name of Super Bloc Maker – possibly the last block print-maker shop left in that area.

Surviving In The Modern Times

Established in 1983, near Khatri Masjid, is this easily-missed shop. It’s hard to come by, but once we entered Ali Umar street, we asked for Mukhtar bhai and his printing blocs, and were directed directly to him. Sitting there in his black kurta, next to an old man hammering away at a wooden block, we learnt more about this art, and how it’s still surviving in the age of digital printing. We were told he is the only block printmaker left in the area and quite possibly the last one as his grown up children have no interest in carrying on the family business.

What We Love

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We looked around the shop, which featured barren walls and a wooden bench for visitors. Mukhtar bhai explained to us how these blocks are relevant even in today’s time and take time to be created. Showcasing wooden blocks with gorgeous intricate carvings of Indian motifs from Kalamkari to Mughal art – these blocks are used to printing patterns on fabric. The old karigar working away to glory has been doing this for more than 20 years now – and will make any block for you, from copper to wooden.

The smallest block starts at INR 40, and can go up to INR 2,500, depending on how long the carvings take. The karigar does it all by hand, from scratch by hitting and moulding these designs on the block. Then, these blocks are dipped into ink and printed on fabrics that are supplied across the world, to Germany to France to even Brazil, something Mukhtar bhai says in passing. In fact, there was a queue already of men looking to buy the famous Bhai’s small handmade blocks.

So, We’re Saying…

Want to go the traditional way – then go and meet Mukhtar bhai for beautiful block prints for your handcrafted DIY activities {buy your fabrics here}. If nothing at all, spend an afternoon post your Crawford shopping with Mukhtar bhai who will retell the delicate but hard art of creating these block prints at his humble abode.

#LBBTip: These blocks come in all shapes and sizes, and come handy for people who’re looking to print their own fabrics and clothes.

Photos: Aman Deshmukh/LBB