Unveiling the hidden treasures of Mumbai's past: A nostalgic dive into 1995-1996
A theme journal curated by Tejas Mangeshkar delves into the cultural history of Mumbai's transition from Bombay.
A theme journal takes readers on a trip down memory lane and focuses on India's financial capital at a time when Bombay became Mumbai. Curated by designer, artist and musician Tejas Mangeshkar, this edition explores various aspects of fashion, art, cinema, music and photography while uncovering layers of hidden treasures that the year witnessed and memory buried.
Mangeshkar recalled that the canteen at JJ School of Arts was a hub where artistic colleagues met. They launched a collaborative platform in 1995 called Fiction Zone to "push the boundaries of art and music and create an underground creative culture for Bombay". In 1996, his grandmother offered space in the balcony of her house in Mahim where Fiction Zone was rechristened Grandmother India after her.
There was a neighbourhood building called Alvarez House which saw multiple creative refugees camping, working and partying all at the same time. Grandmother India designed flyers and mixtapes to promote the Alvarez House parties and eventually the dance music label Bhavishyavani Future Soundz was formed.
Most of the contributors in this edition, which seeks to rediscover an overlooked year in recent Indian cultural history: 1995-1996, are people Mangeshkar met at Alvarez House parties. As Bombay became Mumbai, parallelly, a wave of change was sweeping across the country with globalisation taking root in a newly-opened economy.
This metropolis was on the cusp of change and not merely because it had a new name. Mumbai was recovering from the violence that tore it apart in the early 90s and becoming the harbinger of changing patterns of consumption and entertainment. Music, fashion, literature, cinema, subculture, politics were all responding to this change. This is the critical moment captured in this issue.
Featuring in the edition is the award-winning photographer Sooni Taraporevala's "Salaam Bombay" photo essay, model and VJ Kamal Sidhu on the Indianisation of MTV, musician Randolph Correia of Pentagram and pop-star Sagarika Da Costa on the booming and changing music industry, and author Jerry Pinto on Kiran Nagarkar's novel on the shifting politics of Bombay - "Ravan and Eddie" among others.
It also has takes by fashion genius James Ferreia on the new fashion idiom, ad guru Rajesh Devraj on launching Channel V, restaurateur AD Singh on the it-eateries of the time, Lisa Ray on her difficult personal relationship with the city, fashion editor Bandana Tewari on gay bars and Bombay's underground scene, and renowned artists Shilpa Gupta and Sudarshan Shetty on the radical art of the era.
The issue also features journalist Naresh Fernandes talking on the shift in Bollywood following the riots, model Dino Morea on the era of supermodels, global showstopper Ujjwala Raut on growing up in Mumbai and working in Bombay, fashion model Sheetal Mallar on what it meant to be a dark-skinned model in the 90s, and many other luminaries. The various pieces use rough iconic Amul advertisements, campaigns, photo essays, stories laced with nostalgia, critical voices and opinions.
Publisher and design thinker V Sunil says, "95/96 was a great time for cultural startup in India and the epicentre of this collective energy was Bombay. What makes this issue so special is that we are able to reconnect and represent most of the people who are responsible for creating that magic. Never before, never after!"