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Mumbai, up close and personal

Updated on: 06 December,2018 09:07 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Snigdha Hasan |

An animated VR experience gives viewers an immersive insight into the communities that built the city

Mumbai, up close and personal

For a generation that has grown up amidst the glass-and-steel facade of Mumbai, it may be somewhat hard to imagine that before the malls came the mills. Or that unlike today's cappuccino-on-the-go routine, tea time in the city was synonymous with leisurely sips of milky chai at an Irani café.

To acquaint young Mumbaikars with this heritage, a team of artists and storytellers got together to create an animated VR experience. Called Bambaiyya VR, the project provides an insight into the communities that built Mumbai — the Kolis, Parsis and mill workers. It will premiere this weekend at the Mumbai chapter of the Urban Lens Film Festival 2018, a collaboration between the Indian Institute For Human Settlements and Godrej India Culture Lab.

"Mumbai, as we see it today, came into being because the Kolis gave their land, the Parsis their money, and the mill workers pitched in with labour. While much of the documentation on these communities has been done in print and on television, we wanted to explore the medium of virtual reality to reach out to youngsters," explains Jyoti Narayan, new media designer and storyteller. The team behind the project includes artist, animator and storyteller Archit Vaze, exhibition designer and VR enthusiast Salil Parek, and Alap Parik and Tejas Nair in development and sound design.

The experience begins with a man standing at the CSMT station, overwhelmed by the whirlwind pace of Mumbai. A veteran kaali-peeli cabbie helps him navigate the city, by taking him to an Irani café, a chawl, and a Koli market. "Unlike the conventional medium of film, where the director decides the flow of the narrative, here, it's the viewer's call," she says, adding that one can choose to dwell on the café's menu which leads to 3-D images of bun maska and chai, or click on the pre-Independence history of chawls in Worli.The idea, Narayan informs, is to take this immersive slice of history to other cities, and include more communities of Mumbai in the project.

On December 7, 5 pm; December 8, 11 am (VR experience available throughout)
At Godrej India Culture Lab, Vikhroli East.

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