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Old 9th April 2010, 15:19   #1
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Arrow DRIVOBLOG® | Bombay Photospectives – Urban Visuals, Filmdom, and more

I had no business whatsoever lodging in Bombay for a fortnight last Autumn of 2009. No meetings, or assignments, and undeniably none of what the providential visitor would religiously ensure - sight-seeing, filming ‘Dabbawalas’, starry-eyed film studio tours, even camping outside ‘Pratiksha’ waiting to catch a providential glimpse of Silver Screen Shahenshah - Amitabh Bachchan and getting oneself photographed outside a beautiful house named ‘Mannat’.

Bombay from a distance always appeared to me seemingly unusual, with the Business Headquarters of India and a Mega Film Industry co-existing in one equivocal conurbation. While the former runs on prudence, the latter runs by providing euphoric tours to multitudes.

Entire library racks have got surfeited by hefty literature about ‘outlandish’ Bombay and an ‘out-land’ it is factually - given its micro-peninsular isolation from Mainland India, which correspondingly endowed it with its conceited attitude.

This is the first ever opportunity I am getting to write about Bombay and what a ‘Glaring Liberty’, by someone belonging to the ubiquitous genre lacking the Political, Academic or Literal prowess of Naipaul, Amartya Sen, Shashi Tharoor and the likes. Am I not that reclusive somebody whom the society deliberates to be the mute audience to what those personages write/speak/tweet?

Bombay Filmdom and reflections of the 70’s Epoch
Bombay gets me instinctively driven to experience & gather whatever of that 70’s epoch is remaining of this mega-metro as this is where 38 years ago my father started his career.

By the time I was born, the 70’s era was on the verge of getting over and all that was left for me to comprehend were the ‘ashes’. Bombay being the Business Capital of India, always pioneered earliest the capitalist splurges and extravagances that was the disdained religion of Socialistic India. Even after 30 limping years since independence, our Government was tranquilly confused whether to tag along the Americans or the Soviets.

For some reason however, this inclination was slightly more towards the Soviets because of their ‘Outmoded Largesse’.

Life in the 70’s Bombay may have been ‘licensed’ but not under-estimable, especially the luxuries were obtainable - the so called ‘good things in life’ were ‘imported’. Thanks to Chacha Nehru’s vision and dream of a socialistic state, which was so ironic in reality that the Bollywood Movies cashed in by producing Movies like ‘Mother India’, ‘Do Beegha Zameen’ and later ‘Deewar’.

Bombay undeniably is the talent magnet especially for the factual and lesser known India, for not just the ‘Conformist Professional’ but also for masters in ‘Performing Arts’. First Day/First Show at Bombay and just looking at the audience at a Prithvi Theatre Monologue makes you realize what power this city has, to capture talent from far & wide.

Bollywood and its glitter have been mesmerizing the deprived Indian populace for generations with its flamboyant pretense. Film Productions are events with quick lifecycles. They bear a resemblance to those festival or marriage ceremonies. Like those typical - ‘Arrived at VT Station with a tenner’ fables that describe how one catapulted to stardom one day. Fatefully, the fad withers over time for most, making their prominence nosedive and forgotten to a seldom surfacing anonymity. Such is the ‘rags to riches to obscurity’ pragmatism that Bombay encapsulates within its myriad purloins.

Amitabh Bachchan
I have high regards and admiration for Amitabh Bachchan. Something no different from the millions of fellow Indians and I believe there would not be many capable of doing a prudent job in penning an article about him, including me. But this is not a Film Industry Article either, isn’t it?

I have somehow always sensed an abstract synonymy that he and my father shared. Howsoever petite it may be, but stout enough to make me transcribe this. To begin with, there is a close match in their age and the times when they started their career in Bombay.

But neither my father was the angry young man nor did he get involved into hi-speed ‘Chevrolet Muscle Cars Chase’ pinning down bands of bellbottom donning smugglers singlehandedly and nor can I comprehend, who had the greater Rekha fixation.

Yet both had humble beginnings during the early 70’s Bombay and have had their share of struggle, of which the analogous lines marking both their faces reveal its tell-tale signs. The only disparaging distinction here is that one out of the two was a Movie-Superstar with the stifling veracity that emerges - Both Life’s struggle and Stardom has its recompenses and toll.

Bombay – India’s retort to New York and the Urban Sprawl
One of the major distinctive characteristics about Bombay apart from its quarantined stature is its dispersed municipal localities. I miss the radial arrangements of archetypal cities where the business districts, suburbs and satellite townships, bind micro-geographies together. In contrast to them, the Bombay-Atlas appears to me a tattered newspaper.

Bombay is a city where even the very space that one occupies to stand is priced upwards of a capital value of no less than INR 10,000 per sft and more depending on how prime the location is. Even then, Bombay has been the most successful to be able to demarcate the rich/poor divide among all other cities.

The long and wide roads, ramps and expressways zapping and curving in long angles, are somewhat symbolic of the opportunities that are herein. The decisive trial is - ‘which ramp to take?’ which ultimately resolves ones fate with a straightforward affirmative or adversative consequence.

Bombay – Urban Visuals
I have severally quoted – ‘Cities shape attitudes' and Mumbai proves to be a strong illustration. Tie your shoelaces on some busy Kolkata street for a more than usual time and the ever-inquisitive passerby stops on their tracks, suspecting you to be planting a landmine. A shade overtly exaggerated this one may be, but then to drive the point home, I am sure you will commend that Bombay indeed is one of those cities where people really mind their own business.

I was perched up on a Balcony Railing one lazy Bombay evening at Juhu, overhearing 'oomphs and aahs' from the apartment next to mine, only to discover that instead of somebody's steamy orgasm, it was the jobless rot-whiffing couch potato who was blissfully watching 'Namaste Yoga' and still vivacious even after all the swearing, karaoking and lip-syncing during the entire day of his Television Nirvana.

Last year, some 1 am at Bandra Seaside Bombay, One 'lost appearing' mid 40's something Drunk Gentleman came up to me and mumbled. "do you know where is Rekha's house located?" as if he had a dinner date with her and we were her neighborhood loafers. The poor 70’s soul apparently visited there just for that. I term him as 'Insanely Rekhafied'.

“Bombay - the city that never sleeps” >> Corrected to “Bombay - the city that sleeps less”. After night-cruising Bombay, I conclude that no Indian City has truly got a 'Night Life' with major establishments at Bombay found 'closed' after 11 a.m. After all, when was a can of Coke available at SBI ATMs?
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Old 9th April 2010, 15:29   #2
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Arrow Continued: Part 2 of 3

I missed out on quite a number of visuals as I was moving around in Bombay mostly alone/unaccompanied.
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Old 9th April 2010, 15:36   #3
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Arrow

Continued: Part 3 of 3
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Old 9th April 2010, 16:06   #4
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Lovely start! i can say you are the "king" of photoblog
awaiting for more visual treat...
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Old 9th April 2010, 16:10   #5
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Wow! great photoblog! looking forward to more pics in this thread! very nostalgic- I need to go there sometime soon! Its been like 10 years since I visited Mumbai last, I am sure the city must have changed a lot.
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Old 9th April 2010, 16:15   #6
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WoW. I must say this is fantastic. You have really put a lot of work into this. Please continue. :-)
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Old 9th April 2010, 16:41   #7
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Great mix of both the real 'slumdog' bombay(not mumbai!!) and the oh-so-elegant greater bombay. Keep going, I am sure these are just teasers!!
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Old 9th April 2010, 16:47   #8
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Thirthankar - you really are the most passionate of travellers I've seen on this forum!
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Old 9th April 2010, 16:50   #9
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Good one basu! Your captions really make them special.

In one of the pic the signage says 'rawalpada' .. never knew there was something like that .. Maybe my kumbh ke mele ka bichra hua bhai lives there..

Missing aamchi mumbai big time now
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Old 9th April 2010, 17:01   #10
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Brings back warm feelings seeing those photos. I started my career in Mumbai too. I incidentally stayed the first month in a Chawl! 9 years I was based out of Mumbai, before temporarily coming over to Pune.
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Old 9th April 2010, 20:56   #11
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Man it was so much that I could not finish it in one go ! Snaps kept coming with new perspectives ! Not done yet. Savoring it bit by bit !
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Old 9th April 2010, 23:08   #12
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Great photoblog Tirthankar asusual.Great going.good luck.
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Old 9th April 2010, 23:54   #13
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Another masterpiece. Appreciate the effort gone in to build this treat for us.
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Old 10th April 2010, 00:11   #14
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Excellent. It was a pleasure reading this.
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Old 10th April 2010, 11:28   #15
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Man, I need a dictionary to read this thread!

But seriously speaking, you are a creative artiste thirthankar. You need to change your hairstyle - and try to look like Alyque Padamsee.
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