Monday, November 28, 2011

Mumbai dreams!

Mumbai dreams!
Book Review: Non-fiction/Mumbai Fables by Gyan Prakash , Harper Collins/2011, 396 pp; Rs425 {Paperback}
Name changing of cities, institutions or edifices can be hardly correlated with any sort of positive sense in Indian contexts. Transition of a dialectic city, called Bombay into Mumbai was less resilient and opposite of its long preserved character. We can accept or refute Mumbai as maxim city, the way Suketu Mehta has conceived but it will be seemingly tough writing an adverse note on Mumbai Fables of Gyan Prakash. This Princeton Guru of politics has lived up his limited time in this city with keeping his eyes open on the events that matters. If Salman Rushdie with his Midnight Childrens and Imaginary Homeland or Amit Chaudhuri through his memorable piece-From the Malabar Hills could established their personal belongingness to this city even with an outsider tag. Gyan Prakash too found the similar way with originally hailing from the distant Hazaribagh. This it marks, Bombay is still not a closed urban jargon.

Spread over the nice parts, Mumbai Fables recall and streamline the characteristics of the city with amazing vigour. The defining fundamentals, like-myths, colonial legacies and relative losses, scenic beauties, cosmopolitanism, iconic tales of Tabloid {Blitz}, political changes, urban planning, streets and most importantly the city’s dreams have presented in a order that gives the book a long-lasting impressive stature. The detailed portrayal of Nanavati case and the journalistic charisma of Mr.Karanzia as Editor, Blitz vividly reminding the Bombay of late fifties and sixties that was bustling with plethora of high profile activities.

Besides cinema and commerce, once this city was the centrepoint of progressive movement and then red flags of CPI and trade union movement was as much prevalent as today is the saffron flags with hate-mongering premium of million tridents. Mumbai Fables delves deep into search how Bombay lost its progressive space by maligning hate driven politics of narrow identities. The presence and affluence of crime was always consistent in this city but nevertheless the spoiled form of “Son of soil movement” led by fireband of Shivsena infused extra awkwardness in its social sc√®ne-that was ofcourse the one among of big causalities. In the course of time, incessant malfunctioning of governance has been giving substantial edge to the newly formed communal forces a safe passage to spread their virulent practices. Collective psyche was degenerated by its influence and city keep turning from cosmic to parochial. Now the badness of city was much worse from the immortals messages of cult cinema “Jaane bhi do Yaron”, where protagonists {Nasiruddin Shah and Ravi Baswani} atleast could heard their heartfelt “Hum honge kamyab ek din” even in the peak of distress.

Book have succeeded well to notice the changing class hierarchy of city…though the city always had elitecentric orientation but the new divide among classes are being strongly felt and that scale was hitherto unknown to the memory. Overgrown maturity of the city have eclipsed with the phases of unending uncertainty. Once the hub of entrepreneurial dreams, now Bombay witnesses the letting down of its position to an uncomfortable level.

Mumbai Fables also devote few pages for unleashing the distinctness of Bombay’s lifestyle which is still liberal and open but running under the huge distress by influence of bad nexus from politics, business and unrestricted ambitions of close clicks. To the core, this amazing city is in distress and that’s not hidden from anyone having vision to see that decline. Somehow, the dreams of Mumbai are still not distinct and separated from what Bombay once used to have. But in the meantime, this matured city is standing on the threshold of unique adverseness that is much acute and painful than even before. Timing and depth of this book is apt and that makes it as essential read on lost dreaming city, Bombay..!
Atul Kumar Thakur
Monday, November 28, 2011, New Delhi

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