Mumbai Diary: Sunday Dossier

Aug 27, 2017, 08:40 IST | Team mid-day

The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

Kanishka Gupta
Kanishka Gupta

The author strugglers' club
One would imagine that when a known figure from the publishing industry tries their luck with releasing a book, there would be fewer speed bumps on the way. Not for New Delhi-based literary agent Kanishka Gupta, who runs Writer's Side. Gupta, who is set to release his debut poetry collection next year, recalls getting "several casual and indifferent responses from publishing houses" for his poems.

"There were some who liked it, but were not prepared to take it on. I think this has got to do with the marketability of poetry in the country," he informs. It was Ravi Singh of Speaking Tiger, who finally picked it up. Gupta's collection will comprise experimental verse focusing on the themes of asexuality and mental illness.

"It may feel autobiographical to some, but large parts of it are fictionalised," he said. The author also offered this diarist a sneak preview of his work, and must we add, it was brilliant.

Pic/Satej Shinde
Pic/Satej Shinde

Toeing the line
A sombre Sanjay Dutt follows his wife Manyata's lead on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations at the T-series office in Andheri West on Friday.

A poster that looks beyond colonial hangover
Even as we cannot get enough of the city's Victorian archi-tecture, students of School of Envir-onment & Arch-itecture (SEA) are attempting to put the spotlight on the city's modern wonders. They have created a poster titled Mumbai Modern that features 20 buildings.

Roopali Gupte, trustee, SEA, who was involved in conceiving the project, says, "We wanted to closely look at the modern architecture of Mumbai, an area, we feel, has been poorly documented. But, this poster is also a part of the larger interest our institute has in researching further on the architecture of South Asia, which has not been touched upon so far."

Among the buildings that are featured are the Nehru Science Centre in Worli, Marine Lines' Islam Gymkhana, Portuguese Church in Dadar, Juhu's Prithvi Theatre and the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research in Goregaon, to name a few.

Sir Don Bradman, a man of letters
On Sir Don Bradman's 109th birth anniversary, an anecdote on the great man and how he was hero worshipped in this country even though he didn't set foot on a stadium here: In 1974, then Australia's premier off-spinner Ashley Mallett, interviewed Bradman for The Cricketer magazine.

One of the many questions Mallett asked the cricket icon was about his reputation of replying to fan mail. Bradman replied: "Yes, I've always dealt generously with fan mail. On an England tour, when it reached 600 letters a day, it was a real problem. Thank goodness it has dwindled to negligible proportions but there is never a week, even now, when I don't get some, a large proportion, of it from India."

Bishan Singh Bedi was one Indian player who corresponded with Bradman through letters. In 1978, Bedi wrote to Bradman requesting him to pen a piece for his benefit souvenir. In reply, Bradman said that if Bedi joined Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, he wouldn't have anything to do with him. Bedi reassured him that although he had been approached, he was not convinced about the anti-establishment series.

The article for Bedi's souvenir arrived - a fine piece on the impact of finger spinners over 100 years in Australia. Bedi, who played three international series Down Under, figured in Bradman's analysis. And of course, the former India captain still has that letter.

The real taste of India
As Mumbai Art Room inches closer to its new launch as a curatorial lab, under the direction of Eve Lemesle, its new managing director and a new curatorial advisory committee, there are plenty of good things to look forward. The launch is set for September 20, alongside their annual benefit.

Subodh Gupta and Eve Lemesle with the plate. Pic/Bhasha ChakrabartiSubodh Gupta and Eve Lemesle with the plate. Pic/Bhasha Chakrabarti

The occasion will see photographer Dayanita Singh's latest book/exhibition Museum Bhavan come to town. Following this, Mumbai Art Room will also hold its annual exhibition on September 27, this time a collaboration between Nihaal Faizal and Chinar Shah. The exhibition is called The Real Taste of India, a comment on homogenised national identity. The talk of the launch event is Subodh Gupta, who has designed limited edition printed ceramic plates, 27 cm in diameter, which we are sure will go for an astounding five-figure sum each. Gupta sure can put the glam on ceramic.

Versova goes to Lucknow
Afroz Shah (in orange T-shirt), who has been recognised for his efforts at organising the world's largest beach clean-ups (in its 99th week now) by both the United Nations and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is lending a hand in other states as well.

On August 22, Shah went to Lucknow where he'd been invited to help start a Gomti River clean-up project. While the idea was that he inspire others with words, Shah is more a doer. He first organised a clean-up which saw nearly 60 citizens participating and then chatted with students from a local school.

And, he told them what he tells any Mumbaikar interested in participating in his movement: Connect with the water first, understand what the problem is and then start.

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