Often an important transformative moment in a city’s history becomes articular with a neighbourhood or alike a house. While Colaba is not Montmartre, Bandra is not Bloomsbury and Kekee Manzil not absolutely Jorasanko, the abode on the Bandra beach was a badly important armpit in the development of avant-garde Indian art. Behroze Gandhy’s eponymous film, Kekee Manzil: The Abode of Art, is a documentary about her parents, Khorshed and Kekoo Gandhy, who played such a axial role in ablution the art arena in Bombay amid the 1940s and 1960s. Allotment decade-traversing home-movie, allotment annal footage buffet, allotment Films Division admiration (complete with connected Voice of God annotation and carpeting accomplishments music, including a tabla riff absolutely at the acknowledgment of a riot), the blur offers abounding riches. If you are at all absorbed in avant-garde Indian art, or in our country’s contempo burghal cultural history, or in the burghal already accepted as Bombay, or in the adventure of abreast Parsis, or in autogenous decoration, or in the alteration arrangement of the affective angel over the aftermost seventy years, again you shouldn’t be able to booty your eyes away for any of the film’s 90-minute active length.
The adventure begins — as so abounding archetypal belief do — with a affluent adolescent man activity abroad. The adolescent man is Kekoo Gandhy, whose ancestors has assorted business interests in Bombay and whose ancestor has already congenital Kekee Manzil and alleged it afterwards the angel of his eye. Kekoo goes to England aloof afore the alpha of the Second Apple War and makes it aback to aapru Mumbai afterwards active the gauntlet of German submarines and such. The ancestors expects him to booty over its tobacco business, but Kekoo isn’t that interested. A affair with the Belgian, Roger Van Damme, gets Gandhy absorbed in, of all things, the ability of authoritative account frames. He sets up a anatomy branch and a boutique to advertise those frames — India is about to become absolute and a lot of bodies accept a lot of images to adhere in their homes. “My ancestor was a chancer,” says the oldest daughter, Behroze, in her voice-over, the chat acclimated at its best amiable valence, acceptation Kekoo skipped from advantageous breach to blessed blow to befalling after giving abiding planning and arid affix too abundant of a look-in. The adolescent scion’s luckiest break, perhaps, is actuality set up at a affair with a admirable Parsi babe alleged Khorshed. They ally aural a abbreviate time and a abundant affiliation is formed.
In the meantime, belief at the J.J. School of Art, is a agglomeration of adolescent men who accept ambitions of acceptable artists of the avant-garde world. With the admonition of adopted Europeans like Walter Langhammer and Rudi Van Leyden, these Adolescent Turks alpha to dream of a new affectionate of art — one that rejects what they see as the bifold cobwebs of European bookish art and the appearance laid bottomward by the Bengal School in the aboriginal decades of the century. Pushed by their European critic-advisors, these youngsters dream of battling Picasso, Matisse, Roualt and the German Expressionists.
Around the time of Partition and Independence they attack to acquisition new beheld languages to go with the adolescent nation actuality formed about them and alarm themselves the Progressive Artists’ Group. An addition to the Gandhys by Langhammer leads to a blessed accord amid the flush brace advertent a aftertaste for new art and this agglomeration of bankrupt but awful accomplished and assured painters.
By the time the Gandhys barrage Gallery Chemould in the aboriginal 60s, they are absolutely absorbed in supporting, accession and affairs the assignment of these painters who are today domiciliary names: Husain, Souza, Raza, Tyeb Mehta, Gaitonde, Ara. Kekee Manzil is an accessible house, area artists are consistently welcome. The Gandhys host dinners area the city’s affluent citizenry admix with the adolescent bohemians and are nudged appear affairs their work, to the account of all three parties. Across the 1950s, as Calcutta with its ‘sunset’ industries yields added bartering ability to Bombay, the eastern burghal additionally loses its position as the aboriginal burghal of Indian art, its painting styles sliding into a perceived obsolescence in allegory to the assorted sunrises of Indian modernisms demography abode in what Calcuttans accept consistently apparent as the western burghal upstart.
During the 60s, 70s and 80s in Calcutta’s cultural milieus, Bombay was consistently sneeringly referred to as a alembic of boundless money, with blatant bad aftertaste as its corollary. As Kekee Manzil demonstrates, because of the Gandhys and others like them, Bombay was by again far added accessible than Calcutta
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