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
Also read: Once upon a time, in Bangalore (as we knew it)
Once upon a time in Bangalore on route No. 11
As a person who’s known Gopal for god-knows-how-many years, I truly love the way he looks at things on the streets – a skill that I personally would like to acquire one day. :)
One can add to the list of sights that are missing in Bangalore. As a Bangalorean, I can think of one that is too sad a deal. The boulevard on M G Road. As a kid, when I first saw M G Road, I thought I was in a different country altogether. And as I grew up that boulevard was a symbol of Bangalore’s beauty. But alas, that Metro thingie and the absence of that boulevard makes me think that Bangalore is no longer Bangalore. What’s worse, I think Bangalore is now looking just like any other city. If not worse, that is. :-(
Funnily enough…. this is exactly what I was wondering.
But could it not be because, for the last 40-50 years or so, Bangalore has been boringly….middle class?
Most of the Kannada novels and films have Bangalore. Why do need an English certificate?
Read Eric Stacey’s Growing up in Anglo-India, he beautifully describes North Bangalore.
Read DVG’s “jnapaka chitra shaale” for an account of South Bangalore.
Obviously, there are novels, biographies and autobiographies, it is only us who have not read them.
Alok… middle class have the best experience of life, it is documented too.
Though I cannot read Triveni’s novels(gOLu!), the little I have read, I have enjoyed her description of Mysore, petals from gulmohar trees on sidewalks, krishnaraja boulevard etc. :- )
This picture brings back memories of me childhood when I used to bunk classes to watch movies in plaza theater and sneek into the “gandhi class” snack stall to buy those yummy onion samosa’s.
ive been a regular follower of his blog and ironically, Ive started liking the Bangalore I see through his blog and reconciled myself to living in this city
Kerur Vasudevacharya’s (he wrote that in 1908) novel describes the life in Bangalore of early 20th century.
There are at least two dozens Kannada movies (including Agni Sridhar’s ‘ Aa Dinagalu ‘) about Bangalore.