FINAL RESEARCH PAPER – Analysis of Bombay (Mumbai) City through the eyes of “Bollywood”. Comparison of contrasting perceptions about Mumbai – is it a City of dreams or a nightmare in disguise?

Figure 1: Movie posters

Please note that all the copyrights, of pictures, images and dialogues used in this document, are reserved by their respect owners.

INTRODUCTION

 “… Johnny Walker romps on the breathtaking Marine Drive in the film CID, sweet-talking his girlfriend in the voice of playback singer Mohammed Rafi, the songs warns of the perils that await the unwary in Bombay and offers a biting critique of the industrial city’s soullessness: “Kahin building, Khahin tramen, Kahin motor, Kahin mill, milta hai yahan sab kuch, ek milta ek milta nahi dil, insaan ka nahi namo-nishan” (In this city of buildings and trams, motorcars and mills, everything is available except a heart and humanity).

(Excerpts from Mumbai Fables by Gyan Prakash, 2011)

The paradox that is Mumbai city has amazed many an immigrant, enchanted many a writer and touched many a heart. The daytime Bombay greets everyone with a prosperous sight of future while at night it surrounds the city with the dark menace of society like prostitution, drug trafficking, kidnapping, smuggling etc. Bollywood tries to portray Bombay’s injustice to its struggling immigrants.

Research Topic

Analysis of Bombay (Mumbai) City through the eyes of “Bollywood”. Comparison of contrasting perceptions about Mumbai – is it a City of dreams or a nightmare in disguise?

A critical analysis of Mumbai’s perception and reality is done in this research paper. Three different Bollywood feature films have been examined. Understanding “The Specters of the Postcolonial City” and relating it with the true picture of the research argument. It intends to reveal the dark side of Mumbai veiled by the projection of few melodramatic Bollywood movies. The three movies represent three different points of view of authors and filmmakers.

Quite a few Movies, Books, Journals and Articles have been researched in completion of this paper. Theoretical frameworks of Utopia and Dystopia have helped the paper take an orderly shape. The films I will discuss are:

  1. Page 3
  2. Fashion
  3. Love Story 2050
  1. Page 3 (2005)

Director: Madhur Bhandarkar

Page 3 portrays the nightlife of Mumbai and highlights the exaggerated and boastful conversations of the celebrities. Madhvi Sharma (Konkona Sensharma) works as a Journalist with a publication in Bombay. She writes articles on the third page and does a good job. Madhvi struggles to navigate the world of the rich and famous. She found escape from the glitter of showbiz by turning to crime reporting and social work.

2. Fashion (2008)

Director: Madhur Bhandarkar

The story is about a small town girl who enters Mumbai City with big dreams. ‘Fashion’ is a story that talks about the negatives such as betrayal, cheat, lust, fraud and the positives such as courage. A small town girl Meghna Mathur (Priyanka Chopra) learns that world of glamour won’t treat every individual with success and prosperity. A successful career and life of model Kangana Ranaut (Shonali Gujral) went south; this teaches Meghna Mathur about the terror that a downfall of famous personality bears.

3. Love Story 2050 (2008)

Director: Harry Baweja

It is a story of two lovers Karan Malhotra (Harman Baweja) and Sana (Priyanka Chopra) who travel to 2050 in time machine along with their uncle Dr. Yatinder Khanna (Boman Irani) who dedicated fifteen years of his life to invent a time machine. It is a fictional film in which the future of Mumbai is shown; flying cars, robots and 200 story buildings. Karan wins his love and travels back in time.

Bombay Cinema exposes the urban Dystopia and explains how Mumbai copes with urban violence, the, political instability, the hazards of market driven globalization. Melodramas of Dystopia are well painted in the movies of Bollywood.

The Modern concept of Utopia depicts a perfect society and a dream like world. However a Dystopia presents a society full of human political evils.

The movies that are selected for the research will be analyzed under the framework of Utopia and Dystopia theory as well.

DISCUSSION / ANALYSIS / THEORY FRAMEWORK

The movies: Page 3 and Fashion depict the fast, busy and hectic life of Mumbai City projected by “Bollywood”. The city of dreams shows a magnificent view of Mumbai allowing the ordinary common man to see their dreams to be fulfilled quickly without any obstacles as shown in the projected movies. However, the (projected) reality speaks of a bad bargain, trading peace of life for the comfort of life.

Mumbai holds a cinematic pull where majority of dreams and stories appear to be fulfilled. The excitement of its speedy life and greater rewards, attract immigrants from all over India; Mumbai is considered like a magical cauldron that can change fortunes.

“If there’s a city that can truly be called a city of the imagination, it is Mumbai.” (Helio San Miguel, 2012).

“Page 3”

‘Page 3’ (2005) is an Indian drama film directed by Madhur Bhandarkar. It is not merely a story of a journalist but a wise protrusion of the dark film world that promises success, fortune and prosperity to those who wish to get settled in Mumbai.

Rich aristocratic socialites and celebrities are always busy in throwing extravagant parties and boasting their extraordinary life styles and standards. The journalist Madhvi Sharma focuses on the victims of such culture.

The Page 3 world portrays a utopian model where on the face good and moral deeds are lauded and the dystopia is cleverly kept hidden under the make-up that lasts as much as a page 3 story. The film unfolds the drama by revealing the atrocities that are inflicted upon children as physical and sexual abuse. The control and abuse of law and order, the abundance and acceptance of prostitution, the exploitation of working class is the shield that protects the elite class of Mumbai. For example the rich businessmen Romesh Thapar (Nasser Abdullah) and his foreigner business partners were arrested by police inspector Arun Bhosle (Upendra Limaye) for a heinous crime of sexual assault on children; the men were later released because of Romesh’s political influence.

Madhavi Sharma’s choice of working with the crime department was an open rejection of her support to the world of glamour where glitter sells more than the gold. Madhavi Sharma became a different human being after witnessing the Mumbai attack. The illusive curtain of page 3 was lifted with the sight of a dead body; this opened the windows of self-realization and she started yearning for truth.

“Fashion”

‘Fashion’ (2008) is an Indian drama film directed by Madhur Bhandarkar. ‘Fashion’  tells a story about the desirous people who come to Mumbai to drink from the glorious well of the glamour world. The avid crowd is mostly unaware of the fierce competition that awaits them. The shortsighted are blinded by the lights while the faint hearted cant bear the sights and sounds of haka by their competitors.

The big, complicated and exploitative world of modeling promises small town girls a successful and prosperous future. In the film, the company “Panache” treat models as valuable but disposable toys. Shonali Gujral’s (Kangana Ranaut) modeling contract was terminated and Meghna Mathur (Priyanka Chopra) was announced as a new fashion face of Panache. The modeling world of Mumbai attracts young girls and boys from all part of the country showing them a utopian world in the form of successful package Meghna. It promises a social circle that is an envy of many but a distant dream nonetheless. The models in search of successful careers lose their morality. The “Eye candy” class culture treats women as inferior and someone who gets paid only for showing their body for the glamour world. A dialogue from the movie sums up the agenda of life in Mumbai city. One of the designers in ‘Fashion’ at back stage quoted this crude statement to a model “The less you think, the more you will earn here”.

The smashing of grapes by using their feet in order to produce wine at the evening party in ‘Fashion’ is a metaphor for crushing the principles and morality.

Famous designer Vinay Khosla’s (Hash Chhaya) rude comment to Meghna “Even if you sell yourself you won’t be able to purchase your outfit” signifies the materialistic mentality which values dresses (objects) more than the humans.

The Utopia part of the fashion movie shows a distinctive class, the rich class of Mumbai that spend millions on their luxuries and desires. A desirable lifestyle for many Mumbai citizens. The Dystopia is portrayed via the models that are exploited at the hands of high-end designers. The fashion industry fabricates unachievable goals for many middle class men and women. It’s the speedy life of Mumbai that stops for no one and even after the destruction and the losses the life goes on. The alpha city mercilessly celebrates the new beginnings as it is the future everyone craves.

“Love Story 2050”

This Love Story 2050 movie talks about a dreamland. In this film, Mumbai is shown as a land of robots, buildings with skylines and flying cars that can only be figment of writer’s imagination.

The automatic display of screen while picking up the phone is a scene in Love Story 2050 which portrays the time machine idea itself talks about an imaginary innovation.

A movie like Love Story 2050 provides viewers with a Utopian projection, a perfect scenario that can only exist in movies. A country that is primarily run by machines sounds like a very imperfect idea that provides viewer with a dystopian image of Mumbai.

Conclusion

Mumbai is projected in many Bollywood movies as a city that caters to the need of majority of the immigrants and settlers granting their desires in dreams.

“Cinematic Mumbai is the metaphor for urban reality where all stories are possible and all dreams can be fulfilled” (Mumbai, Helio San Miguel).

The utopian Image is questioned when movies like ‘Fashion’, ‘Page 3’ are showcased by Bollywood cinema.

Few movies revolve around a common theme that the entering the realms of social circles is not for the faint-hearted. People compromise on their principles, accept difficult bargains and endure emotional and psychological pain to achieve fame and monetary gain. Very strong individuals with outstanding commitments level can survive the storm called the Mumbai e.g. model Meghna in ‘Fashion’, Journalist Madhvi Sharma in ‘Page 3’ movie.

Bibliography

  • Helio San Miguel. (2012). “World film locations Mumbai”. Published by: Intellect Books, The University of Chicago.
  • Rachel Dwyer. (2006 – 2007). “ Bollywood Bourgeoise.” Published by India International Centre. Source: India International Centre Quarterly, Vol 33, No. 314.
  • Gyan Prakash. (2006). “The Idea of Bombay: Bollywood epitomized modernity for a boy in a distance province. As n adult, he sees a troubled city.” Published by: The Phi Beta Kappa Society. Source: The American Scholar, Vol.75, No.2, pp.88-99.
  • Gyan Prakash. (2010). “Noir Urbanisms: Dystopic Images of the Modern City”. Published by: Princeton University Press
  • M Keith Booker. (1994). “The Dystopian Impulse in Modern Literature: Fiction as Social Criticism.
  • Gyan Prakash (2010). “Mumbai Fables”. Published by: HarperColllins, India.
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In Defense of the poor Image & Learning to look beyond the frame: reflection on the changing meaning of images in the age of digital media practices!

Both the articles written by Paolo Favero and Hito Steyerl, reminds me of Walter Benjamin’s essay on “The work of art in the Age of mechanical reproduction.” taken from the book The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility and other wrtitings on media edited by Michael W. Jennings, Brigid Doherty, and Thomas Y. Levin.

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“Losing the meaning of “pure art” through mechanical reproduction relates to the cultural power of media because media is constantly reproducing art for profitability and to attract consumers. Most of this reproduction is in the form of film/print advertisements: for example, I found a print ad for Allianz Insurance in Istanbul who used the Mona Lisa for advertising the safety of their company (putting her in a hard hat). Advertisers use well-known art pieces to draw the reader into something familiar along with something that has significance.

This use of art takes “pure” meaning out of the art because it relocates it in a different setting (i.e. to sell insurance) and changes the perspective (i.e. putting a hard hat on the Mona Lisa).”What I conclude from these articles is that, analyzing and interpreting on the concepts and looking with the perspective of theory, i would like to shed some light on Benjamin’s essay of ” The work of art in the age of reproduction.”

Unique existence in eventually finished, so the idea of very unique existence which further move into Authenticity leads to cult and exhibition. Nothing is happening in the ‘here and now’ but mass existence.

The excepts from the reading, “The poor image has been uploaded, downloaded, shared, reformatted, and reedited. It transforms quality into accessibility, exhibition value into cult value, films into clips, contemplation into distraction.” 

The boom or the introduction of the social media and other applications which has completely transformed the work of art in the age of reproducibility. So the images are easily accessible, uploaded, shared, tag, save and reedited.

Authenticity = originality  – becomes multiplicity

Cult value  – becomes exhibition value

Aura – becomes decay of aura

Contemplation – becomes distraction

Painting – becomes architecture, photography and film.

What Do the Mona Lisa and Star Trek have in Common? 

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Taken from Benjamin’s book and articles:
http://technabob.com/blog/2010/06/15/mona-lisa-star-trek/
http://www.e-flux.com/journal/in-defense-of-the-poor-image/
From article” Learning to look beyod the frame, by Paolo Favero, published online: 07.Apr. 2014.
https://comrt465mitrano.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/walter-benjamin-the-work-of-art-in-the-age-of-mechanical-reproduction-917/

“Imagine London in 2100” – While thinking about Imaginary cities!

“In one image, London looks noticeably more hi-tech with more skyscrapers than ever and hovering cars as well as zeppelins. The city is cramped with buildings that give off an electric glow.  As far as the eye can see there is no sign of nature.

While some images depict the catastrophic effects of climate change other views, created from the perspective of The Shard skyscraper, reveal how towering buildings will change the capital’s skyline.” “A wash out? In a survey commissioned by The View From The Shard, around five million Londoners said they think the capital will one day be flooded, so that Westminster (pictured) might be partially under water or even a little bit like Venice – maybe politicians will commute by boat.”

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Picture perfect? Controversially, over five million people in the UK think there will be no monarchy in 15 years and one in 10 think that London will one day be waterlogged like Venice. Here is an imagined photograph taken from Waterloo Bridge in 2030.

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The best virtual cities!

Also this post reminds me of  “The city of Venexia in Second Life, designed by Baal Zobel and Kora Zenovka”. shared

The Holy Mosque in second life!

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“Getting ready for the Hajj (Islamic pilgrimage) season, a virtual training program was launched on SecondLife.com, the virtual reality website, to teach Muslims and non Muslims Hajj rituals on a online island.”
“Visitors log on to Second Life and can visit the island with their avatars wearing white Ihram clothes (special dress for the Hajj) to participate in lectures and interact with the trainers and take part of all aspects of Hajj.”

Go to website: http://secondlife.com/
https://emajmagazine.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/cyber-hajj-season-begins-in-second-life/

Taken from : http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/jun/21/the-best-virtual-cities Taken from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2752312/Piccadilly-Pond-paddy-fields-outside-Parliament-Artist-imagines-London-2100-climate-change-taken-toll.html

Orientalism in Advertisement – similar to Danish presentation, Mismatched BAYO Ad!

What’s your mix?

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Reference: http://www.karlasingson.com/2012/06/08/in-defense-of-the-controversial-whats-your-mix-bayo-ad/

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Filipino clothing line BAYO has launched a new young campaign featuring Filipino models with foreign blood, with Kapatid actress Jasmin Curtis-Smith in the forefront. 1339072521-BayoAdControversy

“The message that came across, even to me, was that having mixed races increase your chances of being a model or having “mixed blood” that makes you more beautiful. They said it themselves: “Call it biased, but the mixing and matching of different nationalities with Filipino blood is almost a sure formula for someone beautiful and world class.” Somehow the message sounded that having Filipino blood isn’t enough, that you have to “mix and match” it with another race in order to present them with a prestigious brand.” bayoad-jpg_225853
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Reference: https://svcoronado.wordpress.com/page/3/ https://thepinoytvcritic.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/bayos-whats-your-mix-campaign-earns-criticisms/ http://www.spot.ph/blog/51266/bayo-says-sorry-for-controversial-whats-your-mix-ad-campaign

Visual Response on Readings – Concepts in Advertisement!

Going Home- A film by Vikas Bahl feat. Alia Bhatt for #VogueEmpower

This Advertisement reminds me of 3 things:
1- Loitering in Mumbai
2- Utopian Society
3- The “Other”

“I pledge to create a short film titled ‘Going Home’, in which we visualise a utopia for women, where, unlike today, mistrust and fear don’t dictate actions and decisions,” says director Vikas Bahl.

Reference: https://vimeo.com/119207350

Aamir Khan Coke Vendor Coca-cola commercial

Go to Link: http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/more/videos/view/id/1158524
(Description : Aamir Khan endorses Coke with the catchy ‘Thanda Matlab Coca Cola’! And you can’t miss him in his trademark tapori style!)

Coke 

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With this ad, Coke quenches the thirst of knowledge! Wondering how? The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, or the CCSF, is a non-profit organization that works on behalf and at the direction of the Coca-Cola system (including The Coca-Cola Company, the world’s largest producer of non-alcoholic beverages, and its many subsidiaries) to provide scholarships to some 1,400 students annually in amounts totalling over $3.4 million each year.

Nikon Camera

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This camera shows that it can detect all faces, even that of ghosts in the above pictures? Spooky isn’t it! But with this Ad it boasts of capturing all faces on the screen.

Incredible India

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Tourism is a major industry in India and the Ministry of Tourism launched a campaign to promote incredible India as a tourist destination in 2002.

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Reference: http://www.business2community.com/social-media/10-amazing-creatives-social-media-0672322
http://www.rediff.com/business/slide-show/slide-show-1-amul-advertisements-capture-the-essence-of-india/20110415.htm#2

For Ad: http://www.pakfiles.com/watch-going-home-a-film-by-vikas-bahl-feat-alia-bhatt-for-vogueempower-99121

Amul Advertisements capture the essence of India.

An advertisement showing how brothers Anil and Mukesh Ambani are competing with one another building their huge private mansions in Mumbai (Dec 2010).

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Assignment No: 3 – An in depth response (text) to a reading from the list.

Summary

This journal ‘Why loiter? Radical possibilities for gendered dissent’ written by Shilpa Phadke, Shikpa Ranade and Sameera khan talks about the desire of women to be allowed to loiter in public places. They demand equal access to be granted for public places both for men and women. Men should not have the digression and they should not keep on enjoying considering loitering as their conventional prerogative. In this male dominating   society, this wish sounds to be a impossible one and specially in India. The only incentive that instigates women of India to demand for such a right is because they believe this act of loitering will allow them to develop a better relationship with the city and makes it a pleasure seeking activity. Mumbai highlights the presence of women in public places and some cases women of high class enjoy loitering greater than the men of lower class. Men of lower class are looked upon and considered undesirable when are loitering publicly.

A Tapori is usually a youngish lower-class male who spends much of his time hanging out at street corners with others similar to him, usually regard as unemployed and engaged with small-time businesses. Tapori postures as masculine stud but often has no real power. The presence of the tapori represented in Bollywood films such as ‘Rangeela’ and ‘Ghulam’, is about the performance of an attitude. This performance causes many women using public space some anxiety since the presence of the tapori leader and his partners often brings with it cat-calls, comments and loudly sung film songs. A group of young men regularly loitering at a particular street corner or tea stall immediately marks that space as being unsafe for women.

The explicit fear is the opportunity for lower class men to attack women in public places and the implicit is a concern that the lower class men might create consensual sexual relations with middle class women hence breaching cast, class and community norms. The categories who have the most access to public space are the middle and the upper class men.

Lower class men do enjoy the access but are mostly under surveillance.  The elderly Hindu women from bhajan mandalis (group that chant devotional songs) and on religious festivals such as Navratri, Ganeshotsav in public places. The perception that good private women does not loiter like a bad public women. However there are two kinds of women who do appear in public places. The street-walker and the window-shopper. The window-shopper is there as a consumer however the street-walker can be there for undesirable purposes such as sex-work. Loiter without pleasure is never expected in India as it signifies unemployment and encourages non productivity. Loitering basically is an act that does not have a purpose but provides a self gratification and pleasure for the citizens.

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Analysis:

Loitering is not only a pleasure activity but it raises the issue of gender discrimination and gender inequality where access to public places is concerned.

Loitering will allow women to redefine the terms of their access to public places. As citizens it is their legal right to demand. Imagine a land where the street crowded with women strolling, talking, feeding children and watching the world as it go by. The entire city will alter in a very modern way. Loitering if considered individually is a very unproductive activity and creates unnecessary concern for the citizens. The fear of inter-cast and inter-religious relationships is a very major concern when we talk about India. Equal access grated both to men and women might introduce serious consequences for such couples. The demand sounds unrealistic as today women in India are still struggling with hideous sexual crimes. Such as: rape. Even today in India a group of men loitering loudly singing Hollywood songs and loiter around particularly street corner or tea stall marks the territory as unsafe for women.

Under the provisions of Indian law sex-work is not considered illegal advocating it in public is. Government officials want to demarcate a boundary between private and public women. The Abisheck Kahliwala case in March 2006 where a women accused a wealthy business of repeatedly rapist her inside her car. The media highlighted the case and the police took great interest in the case but when it was clear that a woman was probably a sex-worker who was sexually assaulted lost all the legal protection and media attention. The legal protection is mostly for the ‘good’ women and for the sex-workers and in order to protect good women loitering is never encourage and thus women loitering late at night are mostly considered to be the sex- workers.

Personal Response:

Loitering is a pleasure seeing activity and it should not be just a privileged enjoyed by male gender in India. However considering the conventional mindset and traditional point of views women should be allowed to loiter during reasonable hours not too late at night and that is also for their own protection. Loitering both for men and women is not a very production and constructive activity. Stereotyping will take many more years to eradicate, even today in India and Pakistan. Women ho loiter late at night are only considered a sex-worker and no good women from a respectable family is to be expected. Loitering is not an issue that exists in isolation, the entire mindset of developing countries needs evolution and modern revolution. Higher Street crimes, robbery, rapes, killing and kidnapping makes it impossible for both the gender to loiter unnecessarily in public places.
Note of Reference: Pictures taken from the journal.