Anand Patwardhan’s Bombay: Our City

When 15 Oct 2013
7:30PM - 8:30PM
Where Light Industry
155 Freeman Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222
United States
Cost $7, available at door. Seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.

A homeless Indian woman, underfed baby slung across her shoulder, is being asked to describe her life in the slums of Bombay. She talks with furious eloquence about dispossession, about social deletion, about the scorn and indifference she and four million other laborers, servants, and itinerants face on a daily basis. Then, without fear or rancour, she turns to the man interviewing her: “You record our voices for your tape, but can you do anything for us?” Later on she will be more provocative: “You just want to earn a name taking photographs; what else can you do?”

Almost immediately upon its release, Anand Patwardhan’s Bombay: Our City was hailed as one of the most important Indian documentaries ever made. A passionate critique of the amnesia and amorality of Bombay’s middle classes, it juxtaposes the lush topographies they inhabit with the cruelties and deprivations faced by hutment dwellers, offers a loudspeaker to the lampooning lyricism and street-theater poetry of the city’s untouchables, and asks uncomfortable questions about the ethics and aesthetic strategies of independent filmmakers who would use the camera as a weapon of social change. – SS

Anand Patwardhan (b. 1950) is widely regarded as the godfather of independent Indian documentary. His films, fromWaves of Revolution (1974) about popular uprisings in the state of Bihar to his epic Jai Bhim Comrade (2012), represent militant cinema at its most probing and melodious. In recent years they have been the subject of a growing number of retrospectives, including one, this past summer, at Tate Modern.

Sukhdev Sandhu is an author and prize-winning film writer who makes radio documentaries for the BBC and runs the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture at New York University. His work has also appeared in publications such asBidounFriezeLondon Review of BooksSight & Sound, and The Wire.

Image credit: Anand Patwardhan, Bombay: Our City, 16mm, 1985, 75 mins

For more information please click here.