The fifteen minute documentary, captures the seedy soul of Mumbai’s infamous mafia. Directed by Shrikant Agawane, the film’s narrative juxtaposes personal testimonials with popular imagery to create a powerful cinematic bringing to life the long forgotten stories of illicit trades on the high seas and the emergence of the underworld in land.
As a prelude to the book release, Madhushree Dutta, the editor of Project Cinema City took the dais to elaborate her perspective of the project. The book, which is an anthology of images and essays brings together the various configurations of the city of Mumbai through its most noted institution; the cinema. The project conveys at once the spirit of a city which creates the popular image for cinema and the image on the screen which creates a popular culture that defines the city.
Avijit Mukul Kishore’s presentation, ‘City Images’ brought together the century’s most iconic images from Mumbai. Avijit explained to the audience that the popular conception of the idea of Mumbai has been fed and propagated through images. The city frozen in images has by the vicissitudes of its circumstances been condemned to a life in celluloid.
With the context to Project Cinema City having been elaborated, the grounds for an interesting panel discussion were set. Ravi Vasudevan, Tushar Joag and Sherna Dastur were the discussants with Kaushal Bhaumik moderating the talk. Impressing upon the immense contribution of the book, Ravi Vasudevan noted that “this is the most exhaustive body of work since the publication of Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema in 1994.”
Vivan Sundaram, the prominent contemporary Indian artist was the guest of honour. Talking about the book, Vivan mentioned his experience of ‘flipping’ through its pages. The artist spoke about how the rich imagery on every page blended seamlessly into an animation which spoke not only about the history of cinema and imagery but also about the history of the city.
For the evening’s final segment, Tadpole Repertory, the popular theatre group performed an excerpt from Neel Chaudhari’s 2008 play, Taramandal. Taramandal, which is itself inspired by ‘Patol Babu, Film Star’ is an intriguing exploration of human ambition. The evening which had given the audience much to think about cities and cinema ended with an ode to that most enduring of life’s endeavours, human ambition.