20 February 2012
Last updated at 00:06
"Everyone in Mumbai is in a state of acceleration - there is something real here,” says well-known Indian photojournalist Pablo Bartholomew. He is holding an exhibition of black-and-white photographs of Mumbai, formerly called Bombay, taken in the 1970s and '80s. The show is being held in Delhi's PHOTOINK gallery.
“I am attracted to people who have a kind of outsider element to them,” says Bartholomew. The pictures in grainy black and white capture the many moods of the city and its people.
Bartholomew came to Mumbai in 1976 to "escape his troubled teenage past". “The city has always been an economic refugee’s haven. I too came to Bombay as a refugee to find myself both economically and in my work."
"Often I'd wandered aimlessly through the streets hoping to discover its many parts, bit by bit, day by day, month by month, always amazed by the infinite visual joy in each discovery of this place that came to be called home," says Bartholomew.
His images show, says Bartholomew, "my outside world in the streets and subcultures of opium dens, red light area, street kids and the city as it was then".
"Having escaped bureaucratic Delhi, leaving behind my troubled teenage life, I found acceptance in this city not for whose son I was but for my skills and talents and of what use they could be to others. This propelled me to try to find myself both economically and in my work," says Bartholomew.
Bartholomew says the show is a manifestation of his association with the "city and its people, known and unknown".
"I look back with warmth and gratitude at what the city offered me. It was with a grudging reluctance that I left the city in the mid ’80s; the death of my father and trouble brewing in the north of the country beckoned me as I entered the world of journalism," says Bartholomew.
Bartholomew says his departure from Mumbai "marked the end of the documentary phase of my work as I started to work as a journalist and had to turn to colour, abandoning the world of black and white". The show features more than 100 photographs.
Mumbai is India's richest city, but more than half of its people live in slums and on the streets.
On display are portraits of ordinary people going about their daily work as well as marginal characters like drug addicts and eunuchs.
Here, film extras, who Bartholomew encountered while working as a photographer in Bollywood, take a break in between the shots.
"Bombay has many layers - money, showbiz," says Bartholomew. A rare picture of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan with extras during a film shoot
"It is a real city, a hard, intense place," says Bartholomew of Mumbai. "It had a democratic way that it treated many people of different faith, colour, belief; outsiders were absorbed in as long as they had something to offer the city."