Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) is one of India’s most populated and congested cities. Located on the northern side of India’s western coastline, Mumbai has always been the financial nerve of the country’s growing economy. Migrants from all over India have always been the central labour force of the city’s thriving economy and are also constituents of the multi-ethnic cosmopolitan culture.
Post-Independence, several master-plans and new policies were proposed by the architects and bureaucrats to control the city’s congestion and extensive growth in population as thousands of refugees and migrants arrived in the city and became part of the diversified urban population. The first ever unofficial Master Plan and Outline to develop Bombay’s mainland was developed by N.V. Modak and Albert Mayer in 1947 to cope up with the limitations of the geographical space. In 1964, Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay (MCGB) suggested a new plan to re-structure Greater Bombay by decentralising the industry and re-zoning the population. Because of opposition from the business community in Bombay, this plan never saw the light of the day and a new alternative plan was suggested by three main modern architects of the times. In 1967, Charles Correa, Pravin Metha and Shirish Patel and MARG (Modern Architects Research Group) suggested a plan which stressed on the incorporation of the local-adaptations rather than superimposing the Western planning on the city. It proposed a need for a new town (New Bombay) across the harbour. Being equal in size to Greater Bombay, New Bombay along with Greater Bombay (twin-cities) seemed the only way to solve the problem of over-growth in a congested Bombay. However, after several critical revisions in 1970s, work on the new city began and it continues till today with further new re-configurations.
Drawing from several such past re-configurations of Bombay as a city, photographer, Deepshikha Jain, through her Bom-bai series captures the city in permanent transition. By focusing on the permutations and combinations of Bombay’s architectural design and its continuous evolvement, she tries to explore one’s relationship with the city’s transitional architecture of contemporary times. She says “Bom-bai is a visual documentary of the brutal urban landscape of our times. I believe we are a city in transition. A city that can either take its heritage and move into an aware future or transcend into a failure of enormous proportions. High–rise buildings have replaced 4-5 story buildings leaving a disparity in building language. The new flyovers and expressways, though a convenience to its users, are changing how we read and map the city as an individual resident. The landmarks and known roads and junctions are disappearing under these new flyovers. As I document this city I realise that the skyline has already changed since the last time I photographed it”.