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Manav Dhiman: The Man Behind the Typeface By Indians for Indians

Dhiman is a graphic designer who grew up just outside of Bombay, or what is now known as Mumbai. Having always expressed an interest in the ways the city changed under British rule, through its architecture and infrastructure but also through the vibrant mixing of local cultures, he wanted to address the ever so obvious effects of colonialism in Mumbai. He expresses so by means of a new typeface. 


Mumbai boasts an array of cultures, which is most evident in its colourful gastronomy. The food is a mix of Portuguese (colonisers before the British), Parsee (famously the community that ran many of the successful businesses in the British era and some of the yummiest bakeries that still exist today), Maharashtrians, and so many more. When Dhiman began designing his typeface, the variable shoulders in the letters a, b, d, h, m, n, p, q, r and u, reminded him of “an old Parsee uncle’s spectacles”. This is when he knew that the typeface should be called “Bombay”. He adds: “It’s hard to explain, but in my heart I definitely know I couldn’t have named it anything else.”


Dhiman designed this typeface with Indian designers in mind and what makes it so groundbreaking is its inclusion of the rupee symbol (India’s currency expressed as such; ₹).  The rupee symbol is a recent addition to Unicode, so almost all of the legacy typefaces don’t have it. The solution comes from adding an R-s ligature, through which Dhiman produced a “unique enough combination of letters and case that when you type this it turns into ₹.


“Not everyone is savvy enough to use a PNG or maybe a PNG image doesn’t work in an Excel sheet they are making. The other alternative currently available are rupee symbol typefaces that have different styles of the symbol (sans-serif, serifs, etc.). That isn’t the best solution either, because of course not all serif typefaces look the same, so there’s always some visual mismatch” expressed Dhiman. 

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