In the crowded bylanes of Pydhonie in Mumbai lies a cluster of shops set against the backdrop of the Ghoghari Mohalla. We are here to find the caste iron expert Mr. Mhyn.
As I make my way along with my photographer asking for directions to the address on the visiting card provided to me, more than a few shake their heads ambiguously unable to provide me details of the location; however, when we do arrive at the address it turns out to be a ‘zari’ shop baffling us even further! The owner of the shop brings our arduous search to an end by announcing, “Mhyn ki dukaan baju mein hai”.
Mr. Mhyn is the person we are up against, and we soon learn ‘Mhyn’ happens to be the acronym of an otherwise long name – Mohammed Hanif Yusuf Nullwala. Just like the legendary name, Mr Mhyn himself is no less a star – he has worked with the best of architects and well known builders across the country.
By now it is fitting to let you know that our specialist for this month is an expert of the cast iron business. He deals in everything from gates to fences, benches to lamp posts and tables to spiral stairways. Mr. Mhyn has done it all!
“One of the most prominent spiral staircases I have designed is for the Pada Mohalla Masjid in Panvel, it is the only one of its kind which is 9 meters in diameter,” he proudly declares.
When I ask him what led to the evolution of his expertise he is quick to share, “Architect Niti Merchant has helped me a lot. If it wasn’t for Niti I guess I would have landed up being a trader of a different order. It was Niti who actually guided me and channelled my interest towards my projects which now enshrine the houses of the known and the wealthy. Apart from Niti, Noshir Talati was another architect who has constantly inspired me to work relentlessly. My father was in the business of pipe fittings, but as I grew up I knew that sustaining it was an uphill task. Today, I can tell you that the products I create are fruits of my labour and stand out from the rest; that’s why my clients are willing to pay more since they are very aware of the quality I deliver”.
A proud grandfather of two, Mr Mhyn looks very unlike a veteran globetrotter. But he surprises us by sharing details of the numerous trips he makes abroad, especially to the United Kingdom, to derive design inspiration. A visible testimony of this is an antique cast iron lamp post just outside his shop which is a perfect synonym of the variety widely seen across Great Britain.
A well designed product calls for excellent craftsmen and Mr. Mhyn has a trusted and talented workforce. Over the years he has trained this lot to enhance their abilities further and deliver the unique Mhyn experience.
Apart from the workshop which is an extension behind his office, Mhyn also has a dedicated factory which ensures that projects he has to work on are delivered on time. Having said that, let’s not forget to mention that a time frame of 3 months is usually required by the master to weave his magic and deliver a bespoke customised cast iron creation.
All the Mhyn products carry his trademark, a signature that has come to symbolise excellence that adorns the homes of notables; from yesteryears tragedy king Dilip Kumar to well known builders who have their palaces in the sky in the tony Nepean Sea Road neighbourhood. They all swear by Mhyn when it comes to quality which stands the test of time.
So if you are looking for that one of a kind designer stairway, opulent gate or Victorian fence a visit to ‘Mhyn Chacha’ is certainly not a bad idea.
Text By Vikas Bhadra
Photographs By Snigdha Hodarkar