Hol­i­day Home­work

How do you even be­gin to un­der­stand a city of 21 mil­lion peo­ple where life en­com­passes ev­ery hu­man ex­treme? Em­brace its chaos be­fore you ar­rive. By Hazel Flynn.

Qantas - - Contents -

Pre­pare your­self for the vi­brant sights and sounds of Mum­bai


Made in Mum­bai, Shor in

the City (2011) is, tech­ni­cally, a Bollywood film – the “B” in Bollywood comes from the city’s for­mer name, Bom­bay. But don’t ex­pect tech­ni­colour mu­si­cal num­bers. In­stead, imag­ine a Tarantino-es­que black com­edy (al­beit with a PG rat­ing) in which the char­ac­ters, in­clud­ing a pub­lisher of pi­rated books and a young would-be pro­fes­sional crick­eter, have their plans com­pli­cated by guns, money and kid­nap­ping. The city plays a star­ring role.

Also con­sider…

The Lunch­box (2014): A mis­de­liv­ered meal kicks off cor­re­spon­dence be­tween an un­ap­pre­ci­ated wife and a closed-off wid­ower in this gen­tle ro­man­tic com­edy that’s un­usual for its mid­dle­class fo­cus and the lack of shared screen time be­tween the two leads.


In the 13 years since Suketu Mehta pub­lished the nar­ra­tive non­fic­tion Max­i­mum City: Bom­bay Lost and Found, “the gate­way to In­dia” has con­tin­ued to change and grow. But Mehta’s riv­et­ing take on the in­ner life of this city of swirling chaos and star­tling con­trasts re­mains un­sur­passed.

Also con­sider…

Be­hind the Beau­ti­ful Fore­vers (2012): This is an­other non­fic­tion work but with a very dif­fer­ent feel. Pulitzer Prize win­ner Kather­ine Boo spent 3.5 years in the An­nawadi slum, earn­ing the trust of its peo­ple. She re­paid them with a book that has the power and drama of a great novel. The Moor’s Last Sigh (1995): Sal­man Rushdie’s com­i­cally sur­real fic­tional fam­ily saga.

Fam­ily Mat­ters (2002): Ro­hin­ton Mistry’s se­ri­ous, 19th-cen­tury-style novel about sur­viv­ing the city.


Song­writer, pop star, com­poser and pro­ducer A. R. Rah­man was al­ready a huge star in In­dia when film di­rec­tor Danny Boyle asked him to cre­ate the sound­track for the 2008 movie

Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire. The re­sult not only earned Rah­man two Os­cars, two Gram­mys and many other awards, it also brought his mu­sic to a whole new au­di­ence. Draw­ing on eclec­tic styles, from 1980s Hindi tunes to reggae and con­tem­po­rary rap, his Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire: Mu­sic from the Mo­tion Pic­ture al­bum cap­tures Mum­bai’s vi­brancy in a pacy 35 min­utes and in­cludes the in­ter­na­tional hit Jai Ho.

Also con­sider...

Maed in In­dia: Broad­caster Mae Thomas’s free pod­cast is a great place to dis­cover lo­cal in­die mu­sic by ris­ing artists across the spec­trum.

(From top) The splen­did Gothic Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion Build­ing; Kather­ine Boo’s Be­hind the Beau­ti­ful Fore­vers ex­plores Mum­bai’s “un­der­city”; the Jai Ho dance scene from Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire

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