Saturday, September 4, 2010

Once Upon a Time

Hoarding for the movie overlooking
the city that is now Mumbai
"Once Upon a Time in Mumbai" is a Bollywood movie loosely based on the life of an erstwhile mafia don. It is in the news for all the wrong reasons, mainly to do with how broadly you can define the term 'based on the life of' as.

But in that hullabaloo, people are overlooking the fact that name itself is an anachronism. The movie is set in the 70s, when the city was still called Bombay*. But people who seek to re-write history by changing the name to one that never existed, are not too concerned with facts, are they?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

* The city that is now Bombay/ Mumbai was just a collection of villages till the British realised that the excellent harbour made it an ideal location for a city. The city was built by British, who therefore had every right to call it by whatever name they chose. They called it Bombay, and for over four decades after they handed over government to the Indians, that was the name by which the city was known.
Then politicians decided to generate mileage by re-naming the city Mumbai, a name that never existed, except as a corruption of Bombay. Wouldn't it be great if it were as easy to re-write history as it is to re-name a city?


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Good point.

Clarissa Draper said...

That's frustrating when people don't make things accurate. I love the spelling of Mumbai(Mumbaai). I wonder why the difference.


Margot Kinberg said...

Rayna - Thanks for this story. You are right that people who rewrite history really do gloss over the facts. To me, the big problem with that is that people do not have an accurate way to make up their own minds about history. And then, too, if history isn't told accurately, that can lead to tragedy. Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Maybe the same is true of those who do now know what the past really was.

Shellie said...

Thanks for this wonderful insight. Your posts are quite moving. I'm happy to be a follower.

Deb and Barbara said...

Not only is your post relevant, but your discussion of the name of the city is one I find fascinating. This is not another Peking/Beijing corruption. How do the Indian people in general feel about the name change? Has the change been embraced? Does it ... fit?

Jemi Fraser said...

So annoying! People rewrite things all the time without any thought at accuracy *sigh*

Theres just life said...

And they wonder why children don't know their history...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm not sure which is more confusing, the movie or reality.

Mason Canyon said...

You do make a good point. I've never understand why politicians feel that things of that nature have to be changed.

Thoughts in Progress

Al said...

We have similar issues with names here in Oz.
Is it Ayer's Rock or Uluru?
The decision probably depends on your audience.

catdownunder said...

Miaou! I am purrowling in via the blog party. It was a bit of a detour to India on the way home but well worth the effort. Good to virtually meet you!

RaShelle said...

Rayna - Love your pictures. It's hard to understand why they would do such a thing as change the cities name. Great drabble though. Thanks for coming by my blog and allowing me to find yours.

And those flowers below. Breathtaking. Also, it was fascinating to read the mans' story.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Debra- I knew you would get it- you don't have time for nonsense either

@ Clarissa- I have to admit Mumbai is more musical than Bombay, but I do believe it is a parent's right to name a child, even if the parent is an adoptive parent.

@ Margot- one of my favourite quotes too. We never seem to want to learn from history- why not accept history and move on, and take care not to repeat the same mistakes.

@ Shellie- thank you, and welcome.

@ Barbara- I really don't know the history of the Peking/Beijing corruption. Bombay is what the British chose to name the city they built, and Bambai is what the residents of the city called it. Then a political party decided to derive mileage by agitating to change the name to Mumbai- after Mumba Devi, a Goddess who's temple is not even on the map.
Most people don't care. A lot of people still struggle to remember the new name, BUT some politically inclined people are happy!

@ Jemi- I do realise history is all about interpretation, but this :-(

@ Theres just life- or care, which is worse

@ Alex- reality for sure. Movies generally make a lot more sense

@ Mason- to garner political capital, maybe?

@ Al- at least Uluru was what the original inhabitants of the land called the rock, isn't it? It is silly to change a name, but at least you are going back to an older name- Mumbai never existed before people decided they wanted to name the city that

@ catdownunder- thank you for dropping by. I shall drop by tomorrow for sure.

@ RaShelle- thank you, and it is a pleasure to get to know you.

Theres just life said...

Rayna stop by my blog I have an award for you.

Donna B said...

Wasn't this also mentioned in the recent movie, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE?
That movie was incredible.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Pamela - thank you.

@ Donna - might have been. I saw the movie after I read the book, so was in a highly critical mode while watching it!


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