Eighteen years ago, Bombay got what it wanted. As moviegoers across the nation were sniffling through the gorgeously shot Mani Ratnam film that took its name from India’s most vibrant city, the the saffron coalition that had come to power in Maharashtra in 1995 made its first decisive move to restore state pride. Riding the Hindutva wave generated by their attacks on Muslims for two years, the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party persuaded a global metropolis to aspire to smug provincialism and rechristened it Mumbai.
Not everyone was disapproving. The city was finally being run by the dictator its middle classes had long wished for (even if Bal Thackeray was too bashful to actually assume office himself and offered to run the administration by “remote control” instead). They were convinced that the new government would act with firmness, be friendly to business and make the administration more efficient.