The dynamic city of Mumbai is one that has inspired countless works of art, from books such as Maximum City to songs like Yeh Hai Mumbai Meri Jaan, and even movies and documentary films. For photographers in particular, this city is a haven of muses–a fact that shutterbug Harshad Rajadhyaksha can attest to. Rajadhyaksha, an art director at Ogilvy and Mather by profession, is a photographer by passion whose lens searched the tireless, chaotic city of Mumbai for inspiration, and found it by the truck load.
In his series curiously titled ‘A Close Shave Called Mumbai’, black-and-white photographs of people, moments and everyday happenings that are quintessential to the city come together with cleverly constructed captions that set the perfect context. He tells us about its inception, “I love travelling, and I used to document my travels every time I visited a new city. Eventually I realised that even though I’m born and brought up in Mumbai, I’ve never documented my own city.” That was the starting point for Rajadhyaksha’s Mumbai-inspired series, an unplanned tribute to an unplanned city.
While several photographers over the years have ventured into the depths of Kamathipura for photographic narratives, or dug deep inside Dharavi, or even used the beautiful and photogenic sea side for inspiration, Rajadhyaksha focuses on the everyday, the blink-and-miss-it moments that make up the pulse of life in this city. But what truly set his photographs apart are the captions he gives each of them, providing a nuanced and witty narrative. As he explains, marrying art with copy is something that comes naturally to him owing to his professional training as an art director, which he invoked to create this personal series.
“Mumbai never ceases to tell a story, ” the photographer muses. Since it’s an ongoing series, photographs are constantly added to ‘A Close Shave Called Mumbai’ as new stories present themselves. While most of his images are clicked using a DSLR, as he tells us, you can’t always control when an interesting moment is going to happen in front of you. Owing to that, some are captured from a point-and-shoot Sony camera, or whichever device he has on him at the time.
“My favourite thing about this city is that there are some parts that are completely unchanged, and have remained exactly the same for years and years,” he shares, “while some parts are completely different, constantly evolving.” The contrasts that work in harmony to bring order and method to the chaos that is Mumbai is the essence Rajadhyaksha is attempting to capture. His series spans across the city, from Kalbadevi to Colaba, to Santacruz and beyond.
Scroll on for Harshad Rajadhyaksha’s very relatable, real and beautifully created photographic narrative around the chaotic but infectiously enigmatic city of Mumbai. View more photographs from his series on Facebook.