In the decades immediately preceding independence, Bombay city witnessed immense political upheavals in the form of the Second World War, an intensified urgency in the final phase of the Indian freedom movement and the growing spectre of communalism. The late-colonial city elicited multifarious and paradoxical responses to urban modernity. Technology, science, a dynamic public sphere, and notions of civic equality made for dreams of individual and collective progress. At the same time, the imbrication of technological modernity with industrial capitalism proved treacherous, and these decades saw mass labour unrest due to poor working conditions and growing proletarian solidarity. While Gandhian nationalists tried to articulate a counter-modern essence for the nation, Bombay was able to accommodate a diversity of visions of modernity. Influenced by American and European cultures via films, books or physical travel, and witness to years of British society, young Bombayites struggled to forge their own meanings of the modern - a new, localized modern.