19 minutes, 57 seconds : Inheritance of Loss {2009}

Mumbai born and raised filmmaker Saloni Shukla has studied cinematography in Mumbai, New York and Singapore. Her latest documentary Inheritance of Loss, to be launched at Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda Arts Festival this coming February, looks at the demise of her home town’s Irani cafes. Here is what Saloni has to say about the project.

As Mumbaikars in the 21st century it’s not uncommon to ask ‘where are we heading? What will the future hold for this city we are living in?’ Mumbai seems to be a city that gets a new facelift every few years. And yes, it has come a long way from being a group of quaint little Portuguese islands to being a global megacity. Our home is a city that was made by expatriates of different communities. At different stages in her history we have seen the her rise, and fall. Yet our love for her remains constant.

Mumbai's Irani cafes have been the familiar abode of wealthy businessmen, lawyers, struggling rickshaw pullers in need of a quick refreshment to whole families for whom the local Irani could be a place for lovely lunches or dinners. For the hooker who worked the street it was a place of refuge, too. Under the roof of the local Irani anyone could be, and has. Anyone, irrespective of religion, caste or creed could wander in and find comfort in the energy of the place.

A place where friends would chill, couples would court, business deals were signed and reforms were made by the great leaders of the past. A place where artists would get inspired, writers would find their characters and your old uncle could just sit back, drink a cup of Irani chai and read the Sunday Times. A place where kids would lie to their parents and go eat brun maska jam and hang out with their mates. A place where stories began. Now, these places that have survived in our city for well over 100 years are close to the lines of extinction.

I sometimes wonder, are we moving on so quickly that we might be forgetting what our city was all about? Sure, franchised cafes and and expensive restaurants have their place but to me – as a Mumbaikar- they lack the character that any Irani cafe had. Is face value everything? Well if it is then why are these cafes going extinct considering they have had one of the most charming faces of them all?

In under 30 minutes my new documentary Inheritance of Loss asks Mumbaikars of all persuasions these questions. And finds some fascinating answers.

IMAGES top to bottom:

- Saloni Shukla at work with Britannia Cafe's Boman Kohinoor

- Kyani & Co., Dhobi Talao

- Promo poster for Inheritance of Loss showing infamous 'instructions' board at the former Bastani Cafe, Dhobi Talao


Ramesh said...

hey this sounds greay- we r looking forward ro seeing this!

who could forget bastani's 'sorry no' board!

it was classic!

Unknown said...

Screen it at WWIL.



kaaju katli said...

Hey, I need Saloni Shukla's number. Can you please email me at indira.rangarajan@timesgroup.com