Mumbai, on song

VT Station in Monsoon by PA Dhond, watercolour on paper, 1958, from the museum

Ever since the lockdown, city museums have found several innovative ways of engaging enthusiasts with their existing collections virtually. From their take on memes to social distancing messages and online exhibitions, there’s so much on offer. This time, Dr Bhau Daji Lad City Museum is curating its second Spotify playlist as a tribute to the city, to be launched on World Music Day (June 21).

“The playlist attempts to capture the essence of the city, its relationship with and contribution to the various musical styles that developed against the backdrop of the city including the Bhendi Bazaar Gharana that included Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Manna Dey and Begum Akhtar, who represented the golden age of Mumbai’s cinema music industry. The playlist includes contemporary music that draws its inspiration from the city and its people,” reveals Tasneem Mehta, managing trustee and director.

Untitled by NR Sardesai, watercolour on paper, 1922, from the museum’s permanent collection

Their first playlist (launched in May end) was a more direct attempt, inspired by a collection of ragamala miniature paintings evoking Indian classical ragas. “It featured greats like Kumar Gandharv, Kishori Amonkar and Ravi Shankar. We also touched upon raag Malhar since we were on the brink of monsoon in the city,” says Ruta Waghmare-Baptista, assistant curator – education and collection.

The new playlist is more open to interpretation and celebrates the forever changing city. “There are songs that have been shot in the city and those that encapsulate its spirit. It will include classical melodies, Bollywood songs and indie music, and feature iconic artistes like Kishore Kumar and AR Rahman,” Waghmare-Baptista reveals.

Tasneem Mehta
Tasneem Mehta

While Spotify only allows for a single image, the museum’s website will display maps, dioramas of the city’s housing systems and clay models. “These [clay models] represent people of all skill sets and communities who have been part of making this a cosmopolitan city,” Waghmare-Baptista says.

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