Unlike India’s big cities, “happening” Bangalore has had a stunning inability to inspire writers and movie makers.
Mention Bombay and a welter of books springs to mind, only the latest of which is Suketu Mehta‘s Maximum City. Mention Delhi, and there is always Khushwant Singh‘s eponymous magnum opus, if not William Dalrymple‘s. Slumdog Millionaire and Delhi-6 are, of course, the latest billet doux that Danny Boyle and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra have signed on celluloid of those metros.
Not so Bangalore.
The iconic local book is missing, boring or out of print. There is barely a film, in English or Kannada, that could be said to capture the city. The newspapers and magazines are like the glass structures that dot IT halli: all glitz, no gandha. The reasons are aplenty (and a few of them can be found in Koshy‘s), but the result is Bangalore is lonely in the planet of popular culture, dependent on the PowerPoint™ wisdom of Thomas L. Friedman and Nandan M. Nilekani for succour.
Thankfully, blogs have filled the breach somewhat, and up there somewhere, near the very top, must be Gopal M.S.. A copywriter with McCann-Erickson in Bangalore, Gopal’s wife Kavita gifted him a point-and-shoot Canon A530 camera two years ago, and thus began a labour of love called Mains and Crosses.
Every day, Gopal, who lives in Sanjaynagar (Hebbal) takes a different route to and from work on Langford Road—a stop here, a detour there—and clicks pictures here, there, everywhere. The result is a chronicle and catalogue of a city that is changing by the second; erasing sights, sounds and smells the senses are familiar with.
“Like many Bangloreans, I have spent a sinful amount of time in the darkness of Plaza, one of Bangalore’s oldest movie theatres, while our teachers and lecturers were busy shouting hoarse to an almost empty class.
“Today, it’s Plaza that’s empty.
“Before a show began at Plaza, an old man, who seemed to be as old as the theatre itself, used to go around closing the wooden shutters. That ritual doesn’t happen anymore.
“However, light beams continue to stream in from the holes where the projector used to be. Minus the whirring sound. Plaza is now an empty shell, stripped of all the seats and curtains. However, a few memories from the past remain.”
Photograph: Babu, a security man, sits amidst the ruins of Plaza theatre on M.G. Road (courtesy Gopal M.S.)
Visit the website: Mains and Crosses