How is Cinema City

The city and cinema: twins in the large clan of wars, moving people and moving goods, technology-based modernity, and colonial and post-colonial identities of the 20th century. They have never been separated in a crowded fair, and so have never got a chance to rediscover each other at the peak of their youth and at the height of their adrenalin rush. Instead, they have spun a thicker plot in which to impersonate each other, hawk moulds of one another and, most importantly, lay down a set of signs to codify each other. The city became a cinema to fantasize about and the cinema became a city to find a shelter into.

A city wears the production culture of its region – the surface of a city of mines has a certain melancholic look, an automobile city looks distinct with its long lines of wares and wide roads out, a steel city is recognisable by its pink sky and so on. How do the living cultures and the built-in forms of a city bear the signs of industrial level productions of moving images? Since the last quarter of the 20th century, Bombay has slowly stopped producing anything solid. The industries of finance and services currently dominate the economic sphere of the city but the visual of their functioning do not make any popular tale. Yet, the image industries, through its myriad versions, remain the most popular enterprise in Bombay / Mumbai. It may actually employ an insignificant number of people at its production end but the widest outreach of its goods leave marks on all aspects of public life of the city.

The word public is used here in the sense of groups of peoples who together make an overarching entity, cinema citizens in this case, and yet may not ever personally known each other and may not even otherwise share a common language, livelihood practice, eating and clothing custom, social and cultural heritage and so on.

Project Cinema City was primarily a set of enquiries into the labour, imagination, desire, access, spaces, locations, iconization, materiality, languages, moving peoples, viewing conventions and hidden processes that inform the cinemas the city makes, and also the multiple urbanity that the city’s cinema produces. The enquiries were based on the hypothesis that cinema in the terrain of cinema city is as much everyday practice as it is part of a speculative desirescape.

More than hundred artists, architects, filmmakers and social scientists participated and contributed into the larger project. It may not be a coincidence that the final year of the project coincided with what was termed as 100 years of Indian cinema – 2012.