Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Sixties and the Seventies in Bombay: For All Those Who Want to Immerse in Its Nostalgia

I am often asked by young people how growing up in the sixties and seventies in Bombay was. I can't express to them the intellectual ferment and the portent of great things that growing up in this period entailed. It was heady times, as I recollect it with fondness. Those people and institutions exist now (except a few who have died or dissipated) but in a very jaded and compromised form.

Disclaimer: this is by no means an exhaustive list, I don't want to be exhausted by a blog post, so I will put here what's top of the mind. So here goes:


The All India Radio auditorium used to screen art films.

Shyam Benegal and Muzaffar Ali used to make art films and Shabana and Naseeruddin used to act in them.

Shobhaa Rajadhyaksha (Kilachand, De) used to edit Society, the society gossip magazine.

We used to use beat terms like: squat, grub, cool, groovy, bread, et cetera. Go here for the whole glossary.

Khushwant Singh was editor of Illustrated Weekly (Double spread for poems each week edited by Pritish Nandy)

Pritish Nandy used to write poems and edit them.

Anil Dharkar was working in Debonair and Imtiaz Dharkar was editing its poetry page (this was the time when no magazine or sunday newspaper was complete without the poetry page).

Adil Jussawala was writing poetry and writing learned articles in Debonair.

Salim Peeeradina was conducting poetry appreciation classes.

Rohinton Mistry used to play Bob Dylan songs in clubs and hotels and as opening acts.

Pop/Rock concerts used to take place at Rang Bhavan. If you reach late you get a seat on the last row. 

Nandu Bhende played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and used to play with Savage Encounter and Atomic Forest.

Alyque Padamsee wrote copy and directed Jesus Christ Superstar.

Kamala Das was writing poetry and conducting readings at her residence

Nissim Ezekiel and Dom Moraes were writing poetry that could change literary stereotypes.

MF Hussain was painting his canvasses which later became controversial.

Samovar was the meeting place for bohemians. Much happened here. What, please don't ask.

Arun Kolhatkar has a permanent place inside Wayside Inn restaurant.

Russi Karanjia was editing Blitz.

Gulshan Ewing was editing Star & Style and Eves Weekly.

Radicalism and revolution were in the air. We were all radicals in a sense.

Desmond Doig edited Junior Statesman, a newspaper that was as much Bombay as Calcutta.

TOI group had a magazine targetted at youth called Youth Times.

Rajika Kirpalani brought out a young people's newspaper called Hi.

Baburao Patel was editor of Mother India.

Everywhere, on sidewalks, you could find books and Indian magazines. You could read them even if you didn't buy.

Dhirubhai Ambani was a struggling textile manufacturer.

Bal Thackeray left Free Press to start his own magazine Marmik. Dizi replaced him as cartoonist in Free Press.

Behram Congractor or Busybee worked in Evening News of India (TOI group) and wrote his column Round and About.

Mario Miranda also drew cartoons. 

Monginis was a restaurant on Veer Nariman Road.

Old Mr. McDonnald ran a dancing school in Colaba called "McDonald's."

By no means exhaustive, but that's the gist, guys. Hope you get the tremendous impact of the intellectual churn of those days. 

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

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