A Short Film About Time

1999 Betacam 12 min

Paromita Vohra

Short Films, Promo's, Music Videos from MTV India

1997-99 Betacam 17 min

Cyrus Oshidar

Thin Air

1999 Betacam 42 min

Aushim Ahluwalia


1996 Betacam 12 min

Riyad Wadia

by Riyad Wadia

Officially called Mumbai, Bombay is the vortex of India's prolific film and television industry. Each year, this city produces over 200 feature films in Hindi, some score of films in regional languages, and over 6,000 hours of television programming. Add to that the vast number of television and cinema commercials, corporate videos, industrial documentaries, newsreels etc. and you have an industry that is the world's largest production center. As is the case with film production around the globe, commerce drives most of this industry's output and, in turn, dictates creativity. Individual expression and thought is quickly compromised, submerged and remolded in the attempt to appeal to a larger audience and draw in the moolah.

Bombay is also a 'state of mind' for the rest of India, and in many cases, the rest of South Asia. A cosmopolitan city that grew with European trade as well as cultural expansionism and imperialism, this port city is one of the few in the East that had no urban history until the advent of British interests in India. In time, its western appeal, its industrial and trade driven wealth (Bombay is the seat of over 25% of India's GDP) and its migrant population (an estimated 12 million citizens living in 50 square kilometers) have created a 'Bombay culture' that is uniquely 20th century or 'modern' - in a country that prides itself on its ancient history and 5000-year-old cultural basis.

It is this very antithesis: ancient values, wisdom and lifestyle versus industrialization, mechanization, capitalism, that has been the essence of Bombay's fascination for both its own citizens and the rest of India. And cinematic expression (in all media, whether celluloid, electronic or now, digital) is the most potent facet in this dichotomy.

To present an aspect of this contrast, I have chosen the works of three very different directors who have worked in three entirely different styles. However, there is a subtext that runs through each of their films when viewed together. That is the conflict of tradition versus modernity. An urban conflict true to all citizens in mega-cities around the world during this past century, heightened tenfold in Bombay, a city of unfathomable extremes.

Curator: Riyad Wadia

Director Riyad Wadia graduated from film school in Australia and returned to Bombay to inherit Wadia Movietone, one of India's oldest film studios and production companies, founded in 1933 by his grandfather J.B.H. Wadia. In 1993, he directed and produced 'Fearless-The Hunterwali Story' which screened at over 50 international film festivals and was selected by the Indian Government as one of the ten best documentaries. He has also produced and directed 'A Mermaid Called Aida' (1996), a feature-length documentary on India's famous transsexual Aida Banaji. He currently resides in New York and Bombay and is working on his feature film project.