BHENDI BAZAAR, MUMBAI
Documenting an urban habitat
on the threshold of transformation
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.
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Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.

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The Bhendi Bazaar area of Mumbai, India, is on the verge of a comprehensive redevelopment: Buildings will be torn down, and rebuilt, many as high-rises. Bhendi Bazaar is the focal point of Mumbai's Bohra community.

While the people will remain the same, the urban habitat will be transformed permanently by the redevelopment. Thus, this urban documentation project came about as a need to capture the current image of this habitat, as a series of vignettes of the people and the place, in the midst of a festival celebrated by the community.

All photographs were taken hand-held, and with no flash, due to security and social sensitivity concerns. This made the project extremely challenging from a photographic stand-point, a story in itself.

Published in: Art & Photos, Travel
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  • Urban Habitat Documentation is always challenging… And in certain environments and situations, it can get even more so that usual.The objective of this photographic project was to capture through a series of vignettes, the culture and flavor of the Bhendi Bazaar area of Mumbai, a dense pocket of humanity that forms the core of the Bohra community in India. Over the next couple of years, this entire area will be undergoing redevelopment, nearly every building will be brought down, and high-rises, a renewed house of worship, new storefronts and new businesses will take their place. The people will remain the same, but not the habitat as it stands today. Any habitat’s culture and circumstances inject their complications into such a project, and this one did as well: No photos of the women.No tripods or monopods.No assistants inside a house of worship.No shutter sounds during prayer.The project was complicated by the desire to capture a festival… What better way to capture for perpetuity the heart and song of the place and its people?And yet, this brought the inherent risks of a crowded, quivering mass of humanity with an undercurrent of tension… The security risks of modern day living, of course, But also me, the outsider, sticking out like a sore thumb in a very close-knit, homogenous community.And at a more mundane level, the technical challenges of shooting almost entirely at night, without flash, camera held in the hand.
  • The flavors of the place, the minuscule detail.
  • Sometimes, the rare opportunity to photograph the spiritual leader of the community
  • The symbols of faith…
  • And the multitude, everyone different, everyone the same.
  • A candid image tells so many stories…
  • Some objects of history.
  • It isn’t just about the people, but also the inanimate
  • There are fleeting opportunities that must be instantly grasped in a project like this.People, expressions, interactions and stories
  • Split-second opportunities
  • Momentary glimpses, in extremes of lighting, contrast and movement
  • Tradespersons unaware of the scrutiny of the glass eye
  • Will they retain their camaraderie?
  • And will they still have those little nooks to play and to breathe?
  • … and anonymous outlines creating memorable images
  • Will they still congregate and celebrate beyond the prayer halls?
  • Even mundane objects deserve their place in this history…
  • Objects many of us have never noticed, and may never see again.
  • And eventually one must try for higher ground…
  • … and glue them into the wider urban sphere, a piece in the puzzle, and the toughest image of all.This single image illustrates, best of all, the need to leave the comfort zone of one set of skills and knowledge, and approach the task with a diverse arsenal of specializations.
  • Photo Documentation of an Urban Habitat on the verge of transformation: Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, India.

    1. 1. BHENDI BAZAAR, MUMBAI Documenting an urban habitat on the threshold of transformation

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