Many moods of the Mumbai Metro
The Mumbai Metro, a transportation boon for the city's commuters, was inspiration for Ira Gosalia, a young architect and photographer, who captured moments and frames from both sides of the track
Q. How did the Mumbai Metro emerge as your theme?
A. I was commuting by the Metro from my home to my office (Ghatkopar to Chakala) and everyday, I would take photographs on my mobile phone and upload it on Instagram or Facebook.
As opposed to the free-for-all that marks other modes of mass transport, this one witnesses some discipline. A shifting of gears, perhaps? And why not, when shopping is now done at the touch of a button! Pic courtesy/ Ira gosalia
Sebastian Zachariah (with whom I work) told me to take the same photo on a DSLR or else it wouldn’t count as a photographer’s work. I decided to take it up. When I discussed with Sebastian the possible themes and angles from which I could look at the story, we realised that there are many layers and sub-layers that happen within the subject. We sought the necessary permissions with Reliance Metro and I decided to have a go at it. It involved an entire month of shooting and I am still sorting!
Q. Is there a message that you wish to convey?
A. Mumbai Metro can be a metaphor for how our city is progressing. Metro rail is an old concept worldwide but for us in Mumbai, it is the latest source of joy and a much-needed relief to the citizens.
Mumbai marches on… symbolised by the Metro’s sinuous logo. In time, it may become the preferred way to travel for the next generation.
I started with the concept of looking at the architectural story — the infrastructure and the facilities. But then, the people using the Metro became the soul of the project. Everyday was a discovery, a new lesson and every picture said something different. I left the interpretation to the viewer. The basic idea was to capture the city in motion.
Q. Tell us about yourself.
A. I am 24 years old and an architect as well as Associate Photographer with Photographix India. We do a lot of interior architecture projects across india and “Metro” was my first documentary project.
Mumbai Metro traverses a variety of landscapes: dense slums, posh commercial structures, serene religious edifices...
Q. What challenges did you face?
A. I believed myself to be an interior architecture photographer. I used to emphatically say that I could not shoot people. Sebastian kept nudging me to look at people as the main subject and halfway through the project, I realised that they actually were. I changed tracks quickly and enjoyed it. The initial fear of what will people say or what if they don’t like it were fears that I had to overcome. This, being my first documentary project, was one of the biggest fears.
Traditionally attired women, their heads bowed, step into the city’s most modern mode of travel
Q. Could you share a few anecdotes on this project?
A. As time went by, my camera and me became a familiar sight. The initial mumbling of the passengers, the knee-jerk reaction of the staff to stop me from taking pictures slowly turned into a nod of the head, a wave goodbye and advice as to where the sun rises or sets. Inside the train, I almost became non-existent to the fellow passengers who ignored me and let me do what I want to. The freedom still makes me yearn to go back.
A muted, industrial looking Metro station gets a generous dose of colour. Pics & captions courtesy/ Ira Gosalia
Q. What’s next on your itinerary?
A. I am searching for something to catch my fancy. Meanwhile, coming from an architecture background, I try to perceive lines, forms, surfaces, volumes, textures and patterns across sections of Mumbai.
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I seek such details trying to focus on what’s not obvious amidst the obvious. It is an ongoing and lifelong project, called Citygraphix.
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