With few public spaces—and considerable public reproachfulness—Bombay is an unlikely haven for lovers. Anurag Banerjee shares some city secrets
My idea of love in Bombay is an extension of my idea of Bombay itself—of being one amongst others, of understanding and empathy. When I started out, it was merely a thing for me to do, to photograph couples locked in embrace, or staring out to sea, or clutching at each other to stay afloat among other similarly entwined couples. It was only later that I realised that I may be onto something larger.
In the couples I encountered across the city, and in their comfort in being intimate in public, there lay something that spoke of more than private passion. Incidents of moral policing where lovers face the brunt of a conservative and regressive society are common. In such times, the lovers, in expressing their love unabashedly in public, have become symbols of resilience, rebellion, even a kind of civic ardour.
This series, for me, is as much about the city of Bombay as it is about love. In a city continuously grappling for space, lovers have found their own pockets of expression jostling against one another. There are traces of love all over the city. Sometimes it greets one directly, in the countless bodies out at sea during low tide at bandstand or the merging bodies in a crowded local train. Sometimes, these traces are subtler, in the form of a gesture or a look.
Love in Bombay is about all these traces of love in the city and about the city itself. It is a secret about a secret. A secret that has no space to dwell indoors and has thus spilt out into the city.
This photo-essay was published in April-June issue of The Indian Quarterly magazine.