On glass facades, polished surfaces, and in dressed-up commercial windows that dot the busy city of Mumbai, 66-year-old Chandu Mhatre finds his city morphing at a surrealistic pace. A photojournalist for over four decades, Mhatre has been photographing Mumbai for the past seven years, and through a show called “Urban Reflections,” Mhatre has brought glimpses of a changing urbanscape to the Capital.
Seen on walls of Arpana Caur gallery are snapshots of a fast-paced citified life. There’s a photo of a man on a horse, crossing a larger-than-life hoarding of an Audi A6; another shows an old residential building reflected on the blue glass facade of a new commercial building. “I wouldn’t call the show a tribute to the city. If it were a tribute, I would have shown the Mumbai traffic, the sturdy local trains that have no equal, and the BEST buses. These images are reflections of a modern life and capture the rapidly changing life of Mumbai which has grown vertically in the last decade,” says Mhatre. In 2011, he founded the Vanishing Bombay group to document the city’s heritage before “the great metro’s physical personality changes forever”. The “Urban Reflections” show is an augmentation of the Vanishing Bombay project.
Mhatre showcases hoardings that have taken up the city, and torn Bollywood posters besides worn-down murals of Big B and Kishore Kumar. There’s also a photograph of people walking past a statue of The Common Man sculpted by Suresh Sakpal on the Worli seaface in 2007. “These are iconic landmarks. You should have seen how many people came to garland that statue when RK Laxman passed away, it was very moving,” says Mhatre.
During his news years, he worked with Fortune, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Times London and The Guardian. Mhatre covered the Naxalite movement in 1970, Jaiprakash Narayan’s non-cooperation movement, the Emergency between 1975-1977, the infamous Operation Blue Star (1984), besides the aftermath of the Bhopal gas tragedy and the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
Before bringing “Urban Reflections” to Delhi, Mhatre showcased them in Mumbai in 2013, and plans to take them to Bangalore soon.
The exhibition is at Arpana Caur Gallery, 4/6 Sri Fort Institutional Area, till March 23.