One-night stands
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One-night stands

Space-starved Mumbai with its soaring real-estate prices is embracing the pop-up culture in all its forms, hosting transient museums and movie clubs, art galleries and restaurants. Humaira Ansari writes.

mumbai Updated: Mar 17, 2013 01:47 IST
Humaira Ansari
Humaira Ansari
Hindustan Times

This past Valentine's Day, a select group of 140 celebrated with a dinner and movie quite unlike any other.

Arriving at a five-star hotel on Marine Drive, they rode the lift straight to the rooftop and settled in for some award-winning cinema over fine Italian cuisine in a makeshift, Parisian-style café.

For the next three days, this pop-up restaurant continued to serve up pasta, pizzas and classics such as Roman Holiday and Romeo & Juliet.

In all, 420 visitors dined, laughed and shared a common cinematic experience here, amid vintage posters, antique telephones and faux-antique furniture, overlooking the Arabian Sea.

Organised by Gipsy Cinema, a year-old underground travelling cinema club based in London, each participant signed up in advance via e-mail and paid a relatively nominal fee.

"That experience was temporary and exclusive to those 420 people," says Gipsy Cinema founder Shireen Irani.

"That's the beauty of pop-up."

Audrey Hepburn fan Karishma Shah, who watched Roman Holiday here, would agree.

"The setup was extraordinary, as was the movie," she says.

"How often does one get an opportunity like this in Mumbai?"

Irani's pop-up restaurant and cinema club were just the latest in a string of such events over the past year, as Mumbai warms up to what has been a global trend for at least a decade.

Here, as in the West, the pop-up culture began with trunk shows and flea markets for clothes, shoes and accessories.

Over the past 18 months, however, the trend has grown in range and depth to include art galleries, museums, restaurants, theatres and design stores.

"Mumbai is simultaneously going through the consumerist and cultural phase in pop-up. Social media is further pedalling the cause," says Pankaj Joshi, executive director of the city-based Urban Design Research Institute.

Adds sociologist Gita Chadha: "If we look deeper, we will recognise that the pop-up culture appeals to the need for impermanence, which will itself be the defining character of our post-modern times."

The city's exorbitant real-estate prices and space constraints stand to further boost the popularity of pop-up establishments.

"I'm actually surprised the pop-up culture didn't catch on earlier," says Kevin Lobo, co-editor of city-based art collective Visual Disobedience, which has been associated with several pop-up establishments in the city, including the Gipsy Cinema screenings.

"With comparatively little money available for culture, pop-up is the best way forward."

First Published: Mar 17, 2013 01:44 IST