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Snapped: From Bombay to Mumbai

Photographer and scriptwriter Sooni Taraporevala takes viewers on a nostalgic trip of Mumbai through the last forty years in her new photography exhibition ‘Home in the City: Bombay 1977 - Mumbai 2017' at Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts, Altinho

Story: CHRISTINE | MACHADO | 14th November 2017, 03:03 Hrs

The whole exhibition idea began on a very different note. Could you share a little more details about the earlier idea of doing a show on your iphone works? 

Siddharth and I were talking about doing a show on my colour phone photos that I post on Instagram. My friend in America, Meher Dalal - also an avid photographer, introduced me to Instagram 5 years ago. At that time there were only a select few who were on it. I had one Instagram friend - she and I would exchange knowing glances when we'd meet each other at events as we would also have posted from the same space on this app that not may people around us were using or knew about. Now of course Instagram is like Facebook or Twitter.. For me my Instagram posts are like a visual diary. And my profile is relatively private. Some of these photos I displayed in the form of small light boxes at an exhibition at Jhaveri Contemporary. These photos were what Devika Daulet Singh of Photoink saw when she suggested limiting the exhibition to photos of the city. From there the question was, why limit it to phone photos, I should bring out all the photos I've taken of the city - so I went digging into the past. And that's how this show turned 360 degrees from its original intention - I couldn't be happier. Thanks to Siddharth, and Mr and Mrs Salgaocar I find myself with four exhibitions and a book.
Could we see this iphone works exhibition happening in future perhaps?
Who knows? I hope so. Life is long and my kitchen is running. Touch wood.
What is it about Mumbai, according to you that makes people from all over fall in love with it and make it home?
Salman Rushdie says it best in my book ‘Home in the City' for which he kindly wrote an essay Eyeblink Choices. He writes "The metropolis is a horn of plenty, inexhaustible, excessive, impossible to grasp in full".
What are some of the things about Mumbai of yesteryears that you wish hadn't faded away?
Many of the old neighbourhoods and houses, buildings, bungalows that people lived in for generations - that had charm, beauty, personality, warmth. Now we have giant islands on our island shooting up into the sky - anonymous gated communities far removed from life as most people experience it.
Why did you never think of showcasing these works earlier?
Because I was always going forward and not looking back? At 60 I guess it's time to look back though I am also still very much looking forward.
Which are some of your personal favourites from the collection and why?
No favorites. They're all my babies.
Not all of the photos that you clicked over the years made it owing to some damage. Which are some of the pictures from this damaged lot that you wish could have made it?
Difficult to describe. Many frames are so damaged that the only way to display them would be with the scratches like my friend Pablo Bartholomew once did. He exhibited his fungus damaged colour slides. The damage had made them look like beautiful abstract paintings. I joked that who gets the photograph by credit? Pablo or the fungus?
You admitted previously you were astonished on sale of your previous photo book.
Yes I was. The first edition vanished in six months. The second edition I still have the last few copies.
What are your thoughts on people's interest in the same these days
India is one place where I find people still read - newspapers, magazines, books. I'm grateful for that. Without them there would be no photo books such as this one.
When you began, photography wasn't a very common line among women. Why was it that made you pursue it despite this?
When I was growing up I always rebelled at doing anything remotely "lady-like". So it's not a surprise that I took up photography and didn't care that there were not many other women doing it.
Most of your works in this exhibition has been shot on film. What are the things that you miss about working with film cameras today?
I miss having physical negatives. I miss the darkroom and making my own prints. While digital has its many many advantages, backing up is time consuming and worrying. I back up each photo on three hard drives. I have to make sure to keep up with technology because it's very easy to lose digital files.
( ‘Home in the City: Bombay 1977 - Mumbai 2017' previews on November 14 , 7 pm at Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts, Altinho)

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