Mumbai Moulting: Erasures and a Palimpsest

Mumbai Moulting: Erasures and a Palimpsest was conceived and curated by Anjali Purohit as a conversation between Poetry, Music and Art. The conversation was about a Mumbai that is eager to shed its skin. A city in a hurry to become Shanghai and in this process carrying out many erasures. But these erasures always leave behind a palimpsest, a memory, a ghost of those erasures.

And yet, the very ethos and vibrancy of the city has generated so much reaction from poets and musicians for generations in their attempt to capture and make permanent aspects of the city that they wanted to preserve. This event was an attempt to renegotiate those poetic and musical creations and counterpoise them with the writings, music and art of artists and poets of the present. The urgency and irony of Erasures was highlighted by the fact that the art installations and cultural intervention of these voices was taking place in a factory warehouse earmarked for demolition immediately after the Vikhroli Skin pop up event concluded.
It included paintings by Anjali Purohit from her show ‘Erasures-A Partial Account’ presented as an intervention that added a voice to that of the singers and the poets.

The songs presented by Amarendra Dhaneshwar at the culture lab were –

The first song, too well known to need an introduction – yeh hai Bombay meri Jaan was from the film CID, written by Majrooh Sultanpuri.

Mumbaichi Lavni – Lavni is a form of Marathi folk music. It has a distinct tempo and is usually about beauty and love. Here Amarendra Dhaneshwar presented a Lavni called Mumbaichi Lavni that is about the Shahir’s love for Mumbai. Written by Patthe Bapurao in the 1800s it describes Bombay right from the docks to the stations and markets, the Kala Ghoda and the Khada Parsi down then finally to the chawl that will protect, sustain and shelter the migrant worker. Patthe Bapurao came from a high caste Brahmin family but rebelled against tradition to take up what was then considered the lowly profession of a folk singer and writer. He married a dancer and was severely ostracized by his community yet persevered to become a very popular shahir.

Majhi Maina: is a folk song written by Annabhau Sathe who is known as the people’s poet of Maharashtra. It speaks, amongst other things about migration, loneliness and the bonds that still remain even though one is swept away by the pace and industry of this city.

Girnichi Lavni: is by the poet Narayan Surve. It is a love song to the textile mill. The poet describes the love that the mill worker feels for this mother – the siren at dawn that sings the bhoopali, the wheels, the thread, the bobbins moving ceaselessly, joining threads that break, weaving strands together – the fascinatingly beautiful cloth that emerge resplendent in so many colours and textures – silks and malmals, saris and shelas. After creating all this splendour, when we return home – there’s no money for fuel to light the stove, now what will we cook. Or should we just put a stitch in our belly to quell its call, just like we stitch (tie) together the strands on the loom?

Chino Arab Hamara – is written by Sahir Ludiyanvi from the film Phir Subah Hogi.

Seene mein Jalan – from the film Gaman is written by the poet Sharyar who chose to speak about the pain of the deprived, the man on the street – Why is there a fire in his heart, a storm in his eyes – why is every person in this city so troubled.

The poets who read their ‘Bombay/Mumbai’ poems that day were  Mustansir Dalvi, Menka Shivdasani, Anju Makhija, Anand Thakore, Anjali Purohit, Rochelle Potkar, Smita Sahay and Shona Urvashi.

A video of the event here –MUMBAI MOULTING: ERASURES AND A PALIMPSEST: Godrej India Culture Lab – Vikhroli Skin 14th December 2013

and the video here –


Holding up Half the Sky

The Mumbai Chapter of 100Thousand Poets for Change, organized by Menka Shivdasani, was a festival of Music and Poetry Reading over four days (26th to 29th Sept 2013) hosted by the popular south Mumbai bookstore Kitab Khana.
The event on 27th was curated by writer and artist Anjali Purohit – Holding up Half the Sky was an evening of music and poetry themed around the lives of women – The purpose here was to create a dialogue between languages, cultures and mediums of expression to create a synergetic interaction that, having expressed themselves together on a single platform, would create a richer and deeper understanding of the issue.

Six city poets read their poetry on three aspects of women’s lives – Women and work, Being Woman and Woman as mother, daughter, partner, wife, lover. Pt Amarendra Dhaneshwar of the Gwalior Gharana accompanied by Mukta Raste on the table rendered the music.

The event began with Marathi songs by the poet Narayan Surve (Dongari Shet Maza ga…) about a peasant woman working on a stony mountainous patch of land and the other by Daya Pawar (Mee Dharan Bandhatey…) about a woman labourer on the construction site of a dam. Annie Zaidi and Anjali Purohit read their poems about women and work.
The section devoted to Being Woman has the song Mungi Udali Akashi written by the 13th Century saint poetess Muktabai and was chosen because at some level it also stands for the contradictions that women live through on a daily basis and yet manage to deal with them to create something that is beautiful. Menka Shivdasani and Rochelle Potkar read their poetry on the subject.

The last section about women in the context of their relationships had two bandishes – thumris – the first one ‘Babul Mora…’ written by Wajid Ali Shah and the other by Amir Khusrau, ‘Lakhi Babul Morey…’. Smita Sahay read her poetry in English and Urvashi Pandya read in Gujarati.

Some memories from that evening –

and –

VASUNDHARA: Dialects in Dialogue


This collaborative experiment, curated by Anjali Purohit, was an attempt to hold a dialogue between the different arts with the aim that when this confluence occurs, the result is a creation that is somehow a little greater than the sum of its parts.

POETRY, MUSIC, DANCE AND ART are but different dialects in the language of self expression.

These four forms were in conversation about women’s lives, about choices we need to make in life, about aloneness and belonging, desire and passion, compromise, loss and solidarity.

Music, dance, poetry and art conversed and responded to each other to create a confluence of shared experience that strove to fulfill a desire for communality and fraternity.

The warp and weft of this collaboration was formed by these strands –


Translation into Italian………………Nuria Sala Grau

CLASSICAL BANDISH in the Tradition of the Gwalior Gharana: Neela Bhagwat



ART……………………………….­………Anjali Purohit