ComplexCity: Mumbai’s celebration of urban diversity

Do we really know our city—beyond our favourite parks and gardens, theatres and cafes? Are we searching for ways to carve better spaces but unable to drive a concrete action plan? Do we act together or alone in trying to shape the space we all call home? ComplexCity is our celebration of urban diversity and plurality. It is a tribute to the city and its people. An invitation to every urban inhabitant to share their experiences of the city with one another. An acknowledgement and appreciation of and respect for every effort towards city building, and a commitment to continue to co-create the city with one another.

The city is not static either, reinventing itself daily to reveal new shocks and surprises, quirks and eccentricities. That is why it is so important for us to make this journey together, to listen to and participate in past, present and potential urban narratives (be it through conversations, visual art, performances or other formats), so that we may traverse these spaces better and make them more liveable for generations after. ComplexCity offers multiple platforms for engagement among the people, so that they can freely engage with one another, and agree to disagree, to help co-create more inclusive, sustainable and just cities of the future.

A Short Background on ComplexCity

The festival draws from YUVA’s 35+ year experience of working with people across age groups and backgrounds in urban areas. By encouraging more interaction and engagement between different urban inhabitants—from members of indigenous communities to newly-arrived working professionals, marginalised populations to middle-class citizens, people of different age groups, interests, etc—ComplexCity visions the co-creation of democratic, participatory and inclusive urban spaces.

Scheduled for February 2020, ComplexCity aims to further the dialogue on urban values, history, culture, socio-economic realities, and much more, which began with the first edition of the festival in 2018 and strengthened in its second instalment in 2019, with the direct participation of 5,500+ individuals across the two years.

ComplexCity 2020

In its third instalment, the festival will continue to uncover and better understand a range of urban narratives, especially those that often run the risk of being unheard, helping preserve and give life to the city’s myriad perspectives.

Broadly, the festival aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Encourage critical thinking on all aspects of the urban towards committed action on how these spaces can be made more just, secure and inclusive for all inhabitants.
  • Build better understanding and respect among urban stakeholders through creative interactions and presentations
  • Drive people’s participation and network building in the urban, to build supportive people-led groups that can work on issues, challenges and concerns and derive broader impact from collective action.

The Schedule

ComplexCity will be held at different spaces across Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, from 11–23 February 2020. The line-up of events include:

Equipolis: An interactive exhibition on urban realities
Living Mumbai: A film festival with stories that relate to the world of the urban
Bolti Bombay: Photography, street play and debate competitions that promote critical thinking on urban issues among the youth
Making Mumbai: A youth convention to showcase youth action across city spaces
Culture Kaun: Cultural programmes presenting indigenous traditions, performances, etc.
City walks: An exploration of urban localities through the eyes of its everyday inhabitants

Who Is it for?

ComplexCity is for every inhabitant of the city, across age groups, backgrounds, interest areas, etc. Events are curated creatively, with space for people’s participation in different ways. The festival is open to every inhabitant of the city, keen to engage more on urban spaces with one another.

Events in more detail

  • Culture Kaun, cultural events and city walks: We are organising a series of cultural expressions across the ComplexCity festival, showcasing unique local urban traditions, music and dance performances, poetry recitations and more. The aim is to expose people to existing narratives of the city they may have not explored before. Throughout the week, city walks will also be organised in different localities of the city, led by local experts who will help explore new areas and talk about life in these urban neighbourhoods.
  • Equipolis, the urban exhibition: At YUVA Centre, Kharghar, YUVA is organising an interactive exhibition on important urban themes such as housing, informal livelihoods, lives of urban women, youth and children. The exhibition intends to help the audience reengage with these concepts within a critical analysis framework.
  • Living Mumbai, the film festival: Across community locations and at a few mainstream venues, YUVA will be hosting film screenings for the people. The films to be showcased in the different urban localities will focus on well-known urban themes. Post the screenings, discussions will be taking place to contextualise the screened films with lived realities experienced in the urban.
  • Making Mumbai, youth convention: The fourth instalment of Making Mumbai aims to support and take forward the campaigns the youth have been leading over the year, and discuss upcoming youth initiatives as well. This will be a day dedicated to the youth from across the city, so that they can ideate and plan for working with one another towards sustainable and inclusive urban spaces. We will also showcase some observations from our recently concluded City Caravan, a course on co-creating inclusive cities with youth.
  • Bolti Bombay, competitions event: We are planning a series of competitions during ComplexCity to encourage people’s participation in urban dialogue, developing it as a fun yet enriching experience for all. The photography competition has already been launched and entries have been pouring in.
    Participation in the photo competition is super easy! One just needs to send their best shot of ‘People in the City’ to All photography competition rules can be found here.

Registrations are also on for the inter-college debate and street-play competitions. All competitions will be judged by eminent personalities in the field, and participants and winners can look forward to understanding their city better through their efforts and endeavours. To participate in any of the competitions, check the Competitions subhead on this page and apply:

[This article is based on a press release from Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA), and has been published with minimal edits]

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