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Imagining the City: Two Films on Mumbai

Presented by Anjali Monteiro and K.P. Jayasankar, Centre for Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

Friday, May 11, 2007
2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
10383 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Mumbai has been represented in diverse ways in the media- a range of representations that create a field as complex and contested as the city itself. Every act of representation is an exercise of power and resistance that relates to the larger relations of power, to processes of exclusion and inclusion that underpin the city. The presentation will explore the strategies adopted and the dilemmas faced by the filmmakers in representing the city.

Screening: Saacha- The Loom and Naata-The Bond

The Loom
49 Mins., Eng., 2001
Saacha is about  a poet, a painter and a city. The poet is Narayan Surve, and the painter Sudhir Patwardhan. The city is the city of Mumbai (a.k.a. Bombay), the  birth place of the Indian textile industry and the industrial working class. Both the protagonists have been a part of the left cultural movement in the city. Weaving together poetry and paintings and memories of the city, the film explores the modes and politics of representation, the relevance of art in the contemporary social milieu, the decline of the urban working class in an age of structural adjustment, the dilemmas of the left and the trade union movement and the changing face of a huge metropolis.
Second Prize, New Delhi Video Forum, 2001

The Bond
English, 2003, 45 Mins.
Friends and activists, Bhau Korde and Waqar Khan, work with neighborhood peace committees in Dharavi, Mumbai to promote conflict resolution through the collective production and use of visual media. Korde and Khan are both long-time residents of Dharavi and both first-generation migrants to the city. As Asia's largest slum, with a population of 800,000, Dharavi has often been represented as a breeding ground for filth, vice and poverty, full of immigrants whose right to live in the city is often questioned by vigilante citizens' groups and right-wing politicians. However, Dharavi's long history of immigration has created a creative, productive space which plays an important role in the economy of the city; it is one of the major hubs of the informal sector that produces commodities ranging from food products to leather goods catering to a large export market.
When the deadly riots of 1992-93 tore the city and their community apart, Korde and Khan were moved to act, working to change both the negative perception of Dharavi and erase religious and ethnic divisions. Naata follows these remarkable men as they work on their film, Ekta Sandesh - their work paralleling that of Naata's own filmmakers, another filmmaking pair who are immigrants to their city of Bombay. Traveling with a projector and a screen, Korde and Khan show the film at their own expense in communities savaged by distrust and prejudice. The two pairs of filmmakers join forces in this documentary to spread their important message even further.
Naata is the second in a series on the people and the city of Mumbai. It is a sequel to Saacha (The Loom), 2001.


Anjali Monteiro is Professor, and K.P. Jayasankar is Professor and Chair, Centre for Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.  Monteiro has a Masters degree in Economics and a Ph.D. in Sociology. Jayasankar has an M.A. in German language and a Ph.D. in Humanities and Social Sciences. Both of them are involved in media production, teaching and research. Their work has been screened extensively at film festivals all over the world and they have won thirteen national and international awards for their films. These include the Prix Futura Berlin 1995 Asia Prize for Identity- The Construction of Selfhood, a Special Mention of the Jury at MIFF `96 for Kahankar: Ahankar, the Certificate of Merit at MIFF `98 and Best Innovation, Astra Film Festival 1998, Sibiu, Romania for YCP 1997 and the Best documentary award at the IV Three Continents International Festival of Documentaries 2005, Venezuela, for SheWrite.

They have several papers in the area of media and cultural studies and have contributed to scholarly journals such as Cultural Studies. They are both recipients of the Howard Thomas Memorial Fellowship in Media Studies, and have been attached to Goldsmith’s College, London and the University of Western Sydney. Monteiro has been awarded a Fulbright visiting lecturer fellowship for 2006-07 and is attached to the Center for South Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley. They also serve as visiting faculty to several leading media and design institutions across India. They are both actively involved in ‘Vikalp' and 'Films for Freedom', which are collectives of documentary filmmakers campaigning for freedom of expression. They are also associated with various media and voluntary organisations.

Image: Still from the movie Saacha, The Loom, 2001.

Jyoti Gulati310-206-2654

Sponsor(s): Center for India and South Asia

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