Creative minds are paying tribute to the beautiful cities that make up the diversity of India. Whether it is through films, songs, videos, cricket matches, fundraisers or products — the city beautiful is the cynosure of the new global village.
The latest to jump onto this bandwagon is Little Bangalore, a five-minute film directed by Atul Kattukaran, which is trending fiercely online. He and his team have shot today’s Bangalore as they see it (see interview alongside).
This love for a place has taken many forms of expression. John Denver reminisced as he crooned “Country Roads, take me home /To the place I belong /West Virginia, mountain momma /Take me home, country road.” Carrie Bradshaw in one of the episodes of Sex and the City said of New York: “You only get one great love, New York may just be mine.” Bollywood has made many a movie based on India’s city of dreams, from the critically acclaimed Mumbai Meri Jaan, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai and Dhobhi Ghat to commercial potboilers like Wake Up Sid, there are those who in their own way are epitomising their cities.
Artists and cartoonists have been doing a splendid job paying homage to their cities. Bangalore-based cartoonist Paul Fernandes’ gallery, aPaulogy, has on display his masterpieces that capture the life and times of Bangalore from the good ole’ 70s — the city he depicts as the pensioner’s paradise, the garden city.
Across 50 watercolour prints, his unique style and classic wittiness take you down memory lane where you fondly hark back to a gentle, laid back Bangalore where you could snooze outside in your garden chair, and a time when cycling without a kerosene oil lamp was grave felony!
“With Bangalore changing from what we knew it to be in the glorious 70s, I began going to the old landmarks that included prime restaurants, cafes, cinema halls, old college buildings, among others, and capturing them. My intention has been to bring back to the minds of people the simple and peaceful days of yore,” says Fernandes.
As beautifully odd as it is to view a town you grew up in with the eyes of a historian on the way things were, capturing today through the eyes of the youth is just as nice.
Vivek Prabhakar and his wife Shubhra Chadda set up Chumbak, an online store that creates and retails souvenirs for a contemporary India. The duo started off with designing and selling city-specific fridge magnets.
Right now, it’s their city-series coffee mugs that are a raging success.
The funky “namma Bengaluru” mug, the bright yellow “I love Bangalore” luggage tag, and the incredibly amusing “You know you work in a call centre” poster have invariably wormed their way into many a Bangalorean household!
Vivek elucidates: “The plan stemmed from our keen observation that people who live in a particular city are not necessarily from that city and the chances of feeling homesick and wanting to get as close to something that reminds them of home is rather high.
Indians tend to travel extensively and while they do that, they also look to purchase souvenirs that have special value to that place.
The IPL also made us realise the allegiance we have to our cities is rather strong.”
“These are products that people can identify with because the illustrations on them are of popular landmarks in their city and also the content comprises their city’s lingo like ‘chill maadi’ and ‘adjust maadi’,” he adds.
The blending together of quirkiness and nostalgia is what these tribute collectibles are about.
Online shopping portals also sell kitschy Indian city-specific décor like New Delhi taxi cushion covers! Sure, the city develops and its landscape changes with time, but there’s no denying that the people give the city its soul.
And like they say, you can take a person out of the city but you cannot take the city out of him!