Mustansir Dalvi

Mustansir Dalvi was born in Bombay. He teaches architecture in Mumbai.


He has lectured, read and published several papers on...

What is the Future of Our Past?

In the film Bhooter Bhobishyot (The Future of the Past), the ghosts of Kolkata face a dilemma. All the old houses are being torn down and replaced by new buildings. Where are they to go? The ensemble of ghosts in the film literally maps out between them the history of the city since its inception, and as you encounter them, you encounter the memories and past lives of the city.

Our urban environs today are in a constantly changing state, with old buildings getting demolished and new highrises of various aspirations taking their place. As a chawl goes, a shack goes, a cottage goes, a bungalow goes, so do the ghosts of the city disappear – memories, the past, the story of the city expressed daily in its buildings is getting wiped out at a fast pace. According to Mustansir Dalvi, in this fairly arbitrary ongoing process, the city is becoming ‘untethered’.

We are delighted to invite Mustansir Dalvi - poet, architect, teacher - to Mumbai Local, to speak of his hybrid practice as poet, architect, pedagogue, curator and translator concerned with the pressing issues of urbanism.  We will see how concerns raised in one practice find their way to expression in another practice – how translation affects the writing of poetry, how columns on urban issues translate into the poetry he writes, how curated exhibitions based on old archives throw more light on the way the city has grown, and so on.

We look forward to seeing you on Friday for a stimulating evening that engages with art as a hybrid practice, where the artists concerns find expression across multiple coalescing practices.

Curated by Ranjit Hoskote
RSVP for this session begins on Monday 13th May 2019

Mustansir Dalvi was born in Bombay. He teaches architecture in Mumbai.


He has lectured, read and published several papers on architectural education, architectural history and heritage, urban transformation and architectural semiotics. He is the author of The Romance of Red Stone: An Appreciation of Ornament on Islamic Architecture in India (Super Book House, 2010) and The Past as Present: pedagogical practices in architecture at the Bombay School of Art (Sir JJ/UDRI, 2016). He is the editor of 20th Century Compulsions (Marg, 2016). Mustansir Dalvi has two books of poems in English, brouhahas of cocks (Poetrywala, 2013) and Cosmopolitician (Poetrywala, 2018). His 2012 English translation of Muhammad Iqbal's Shikwa and Jawaab-e-Shikwa from the Urdu, Taking Issue and Allah's Answer (Penguin Classics) is described as 'insolent and heretical'. Mustansir Dalvi has translated Hemant Divate’s poems from the Marathi in struggles with imagined gods (Poetrywala, 2014). He is the editor of Man without a Navel, a collection of new and selected translations of Hemant Divate’s poems (2018, Poetrywala).


Mustansir Dalvi’s location and pedagogy over the last three and a half decades has led his curiosity onto various directions and modes of inquiry into the urban situation he finds himself in. This has manifested itself into a variety of practices, as professor of architecture at Sir JJ College of Architecture, an urban theorist, a historian of architecture, a doctoral researcher on Bombay’s Art Deco architecture, a commentator and columnist on the city in its current post-planning avatar, a curator and archivist of old drawings and prints from the Sir JJ School of Art (and architecture), an editor, a translator of contemporary poetry and an Anglophone poet. All these ways of seeing crisscross and inform each other, and coalesce into an indistinct, fuzzy image of the practitioner himself.

Venues Dates Time
12-99 yrs
1 hr , 30 min
Entry free, on a first-come-first basis. Pre-register now to save your seat.