Stories of cultural migration.
In 1940s the borders of the world carried a marginal bit of ambiguity. With 650 rupees, you could buy a ticket to the land of the “Sahebs” and take a journey that could possibly change your life. Many young Maharashtrians, took that leap of faith in the pre independent era. The guilt of leaving their homeland, while the state and the entire country was fighting for it’s freedom, overpowered many. But the motivation to cross the sea was potent. The influx of Maharashtrian, educated youth, migrating to the UK over the years, is constant to this very day.
The world may have gotten smaller in the Twenty first century, but the inherent need to find a home and finding a sense of belonging has been a common thread over the years. In an attempt to find that warmth of familiarity in the British winters, a collective called “Maharashtra Mandal” was formed in 1936. It involved Diwali lunches, talks about nationalism by the prominent personalities of the time, discussions over the Indian freedom movement, and in recent years, Marathi (regional official language of the state) movie screenings, theatre performances and making the most of the wealthy life this developed world has given them.
Maharashtra Mandal for me signifies the struggle between wanting to find ties with their homeland they left behind years ago, and an almost alienating, admiration they receive when they go back home.
In an attempt to study this peculiar phenomenon, I travelled to the UK in late 2014, to photograph some interesting stories of Maharashtrians migrated to different parts of the world. This body of work is a combination of the photo stories I shot, and the collection of old documents and photo-archives. In an attempt to weave a comprehensive story.
This series shot in the UK, is a part of a larger, long-term project, where I plan to photograph stories of individual Maharashtrians spread in different corners of the world.