Mumbai is a city that lives in its public spaces, even makes duck faces in its public spaces. Taking a selfie at Bandra Bandstand or at Gateway of India is now a part of Mumbai's DNA as much as the buildings themselves. You'll see the selfie-taking species everywhere you turn around: at the shopping mall, at the movie theatre, even the local train.
Aishwarya Nikam, a 21-year-old media professional, told Firstpost that she simply loves taking selfies. According to her, the reason they have now come to have a bad reputation is because people love to hate everything that is popular just so that they can stand out. She defended the selfie, the groupfie (group selfie), the helfie (hair selfie), the welfie (Work-out selfie) and any other variations.
"Professor and author Sherry Turkle once said, 'Technology doesn't just do things for us. It does things to us, changing not just what we do, but who we are'. And that’s what has happened to the selfie. Selfies are a way of visual expression in modern society. They are the perfect combination of photography (an aesthetically pleasing fine art) and social media (a modern need). They help to convey parts of your life to your audience, where you are, what you’re doing, how you’re feeling, etc
"I will however agree that there are a few situations when people take it too far. In the attempt to get their perfect selfie, they might get a little too extreme and hurt themselves. But they’re the exception and not the rule. It would be highly unfair to judge or punish the entire population of selfie takers because of a few bad eggs.
"But here’s why I love selfies, and this continues to be my biggest argument in favour of them: Selfies make you feel good! They reinforce to yourself that you are a gorgeous human being. They make you feel more attractive and add to your confidence. They trick you into thinking that you’re having a great time even if you’re at a dreadfully boring party. They remind of you of that fun time you photobombed your friend’s perfect picture. They get friends and family to huddle together for snaps with beautifully wide smiles. They are the ultimate feel good mechanism.
"So why are people who take selfies shamed?
"Because they’re too self-involved? Well, aren’t we all!
"Because they care more about their looks? That is an unfair assumption to make. And even if they do, so what? Live and let live.
"Because their sense of self is rooted in external validation? Big whoop! We all love to be loved. It’s the relentless struggle of the human condition.
"So why hate on the selfie? Let people feel good about themselves. Every person has their own battle to fight. In such times, if posting a picture of their own face on Instagram can make them feel good and make their day a little bit better, why not?
"So take out that phone and turn on your camera. Find your perfect angle and get to your luminizing lighting. Try out that filter that makes you look like an angel God.
"Just do it!
That's why Mumbai Police's idea of a 'No Selfie Zone' grates so much. On 12 January, Mumbai Police announced that they have identified 16 dangerous selfie spots across the city which will be declared No Selfie Zones.
The move, which has been criticised as a matter of overreach, came after three girls slipped at Bandra bandstand and fell into the Arabian Sea while taking a selfie. A man passing by, 37-year-old Ramesh Walanju, managed to rescue two girls but died when he went to help the third.
Mumbai Police’s No Selfie Zones include Bandra Bandstand, Girgaum Chowpatty beach and Marine Drive promenade.
Firstpost’s video team took a 360 degree video of these No Selfie Zones so you don’t feel like you are missing out. Watch the video below and read Creative Director and Producer Siddhaarth Aalambayan's description about the two-day-long process behind it. (Watch it in the best quality possible and with your headphones on.)
4:30 am : Like a receptionist at a posh hotel, I sound an alarm to a team that dreads morning calls.
"This is your wake up call, lads!"
Yawns, followed by 'good morning' in response.
5:30am : Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road, our rendezvous point has already started buzzing with trucks unloading distilled milk and newspapers. The BMC workers have started to sweep the roads with the sun is nowhere in sight. Its a pleasant Saturday morning and to a film makers delight, the skies look clear.
6:30am : We are about to shoot the "No Selfie spots of Mumbai city".
6:41 : Touchdown at Colaba Waterfront. We see the magnificent Gateway of India as we take a stroll down the Radio Club Lane, our first shooting spot for the day. A police van is parked outside the lane adjacent to the Taj. A brief recon trip reveals to us the migratory birds resting on the mild tides, waiting for the folks who've left their households for their routine morning walks.
6:45am : Time slows down for us as we see the first light of the day. As the sky turns light blue and the director of photography (DP) starts to fiddle with the camera(s) settings.
6:58am : No Selfie Spot 1.
With the 360 degree field of view, the visual grammar changes. All I learnt at the film school seems to have gone to the dogs.I take full turns to fathom what the cameras are capturing.
7:02am : A crow starts to hover above the monopod, which is mount with multiple GoPro cameras attached with extensions attached by the MERAKI team to attain a full field of view.
7:05 : The on-duty security manager of the Taj questions us about our intentions as we give him a complete explanation to which he smiles and bids us farewell.
7:08 : Our pre-production manual reminds us that we are to move over to the Gateway to capture the sunrise and that's exactly what we do, although, to my shock, there is almost zero security at the entrance. We pass through the barricades and metal detectors with same ease as taking a stroll in a park.
7:13 am: Shot 2, self spot 1, the cameras roll with the sun still nowhere to be seen.
7:15 am : Then suddenly to our surprise, the sun finally springs up from 35 degree left of frame-1. But if you were to turn left while viewing the 360 degree video, it would be right in the middle of your frame and this is what you will see: the beautiful city of Mumbai waking up.
7:30am : The cops here are alert and impress me with their knowledge of technology as they approach us and ask us to move to a different spot.
NOTE : When shooting 360 degrees, the biggest problem is that you cannot stand anywhere close to your cameras, as you'll end up starring in the movie, more than your subjects themselves.
7:32am : We wrap up location 1 as we move on to Nariman Point.
7:50am : No Selfie Spot 3
The navy is prepping for a Mumbai-Gandhinagar cycle run as we set up at the very edge of South Bombay (not counting in Navy Nagar and New Navy Nagar).
The early morning South-Mumbaikars are busy doing Yoga as we roll cameras at Nariman Point.
We've set-up on a rock that holds the waves down, witnessing the spectacle the sunlight creates as its orange hits the Malabar Hill side of houses. Marine Drive with its architectural beauty and the art-deco (in the farsight) is just as beautiful.
8:10am : The batteries have started to give in. Murphy's law in action. A cop and a Navy official want us to move away from the location as they narrate the story of a girl who died taking a selfie.
4pm : The sun shines bright as we climb atop the Public Toilet (Sauchalay) at Juhu Chowpatty. Over 5,000 people (as guessed by the life guard on duty) are either half deep into the mucky waters or soaking in the early evening sun.
(A special thanks to the guards on duty here, since they took good care of us and informed us about the necessary precautions to take. Remember not everybody is allowed to shoot here.)
4:15pm : No Selfie Spot 4
We find a spot that enables us to see Helicopters taking off, all the while giving us an aerial view of the Chowpatty itself (Footage not included for security reasons). We realize that we have left too much leg room and included the 'not so nice looking' terrace of the shauchalaya (public toilet), hence we move to the beach.
4:30 : No selfie zone 5
Pay close heed to this shot as a girl in the very front does exactly what she's not supposed to do. Take a selfie stick, mount her camera on it, roll her jeans up and take selfies. She's at least half a feet in water as she's doing this. The crowd around her is reckless and doesn't really care. If you watch the time lapse of Juhu chowpatty closely, you'll notice that here, while on the beach, the authorities can only control so much area.
5:45 : Juhu - Bandra Fort
We are running out on time, as we plan to catch the sunset from Mahim Chowpatty. Nonetheless, the main spot which led to the 'No Selfie zone' declaration has arrived and boy, do we see some cops here.
Where there used to be just a single patrol van with 5-7 cops hanging around, now they are in equal numbers to the couples sneaking into the fort itself.
6:15 pm - No selfie Spot 6
Considering the MERAKI (360 degree camera) setup is small, it only enables so much stability when kept at the edge of a fort. Nonetheless, the footage looks majestic and now you can witness the location without risking your life for it.
(Remember - the waves get higher by the evening and rougher by the night here. So if you're headed there as a tourist, avoid
going on to the rocks.)
7:10 - We have battled the Mumbai traffic and somehow managed to reach Mahim Chowpatty on time.
A beautiful sunset, an avant-garde shot of a man sleeping right underneath our cameras, a tourist taking a selfie and everything else around gets captured.
We pack up with sundown and head homes to edit the massive the produce which you now see here. Do tell us what you think.