[Reader-list] Fw: [faowindia] Fwd: Invisible people

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Mon Sep 21 20:30:26 IST 2009

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From: smriti nevatia <smritinevatia at gmail.com>
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Subject: [faowindia] Fwd: Invisible people


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From: Nishtha Jain <raintreefilms@ gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Sep 21, 2009 at 2:23 PM
Subject: Invisible people

Dear friends,

I would like to share Kalpana Sharma's article about my new film 'At My Doorstep'.

I recently premiered the film in Isola cinema, Slovenia. Hope to start screening the film soon in other places especially here in Bombay. Please get in touch for any possible screening suggestions/ possibilities in your locality, housing societies. We could make a double bill with Lakshmi and Me... 

thanks and warm regards


The Hindu, Sunday Magazine, September 20, 2009

http://www.hinduonn et.com/mag/ 2009/09/20/ stories/20090920 50110300. htm

Invisible people

The documentary fleshes out the story of unacknowledged lives whose hard work holds up a city like Mumbai… 

The least that we, who are served and looked after by these silent servers, can do is to acknowledge their presence…

Unappreciated work: A still from the documentary “At my doorstep”.

morning, before most people in the multi-storied building where I live
in Mumbai wake up and virtually unnoticed by its residents, a silent
army of men do their work. A young boy, a student during the rest of
the day, delivers newspapers, the g arbage bag left outside our doors
is cleared and the corridor swept and swabbed by the sweeper and the
milkman delivers packets of milk, perching them on a ledge or placing
them in a bag hung on front doors. And even as we stir, the “breadman”
delivers freshly baked local bread and eggs, the sabziwallah comes to the door with a selection of vegetables, the fruit man brings your choice of fruit, the istriwallah comes to collect and deliver your ironing and the local kirana (grocery)
store delivers whatever you order on the phone. This is apart from your
domestic help arriving to sweep and swab your house, wash your clothes,
cook your meal and wash your dishes. And also apart from the security
men at the gate of the building, who check everyone who enters the
building and make sure you are not disturbed by strangers coming to
your door.
Question we don’t ask

who are these people? Do we know their names? Where do they come from?
How do they survive in Mumbai? Where do they live? Do we care?
Jain, a film-maker already known for her remarkable film on the life of
her domestic help, “Lakshmi and me”, that brought out the world of the
women who literally hold up the homes of the middle class and the rich
in Mumbai, has now made another film on the world of these virtually
invisible people who hold up the city of Mumbai. “At my doorstep” is
the story of the security guards, the men who iron clothes, the boys
who deliver newspapers and groceries and the men who clear the garbage
from Mumbai’s multi-storied and high-rise buildings.
against the background of Mumbai’s Film City, and the dreams that
Bollywood weaves for so many who come to the city seeking work, Jain
opens our eyes to the world that these men inhabit. Through the words
of Dayanand, a poet and writer originally from Bokaro in Jharkhand, who
works as a security guard, Jain portrays the philosophical mindset that
helps these men to survive.
arrival in Mumbai begins with the ticket collector fining him for
travelling from Bokaro to Mumbai on an Express Train with an ordinary
ticket. Unable to pay the fine, he spends his first night in the
lockup. His journey then progresses to the point he has a job but no
home. A hut in a slum becomes home, embellished with posters and poems
pasted on its flimsy walls. In his spare time, Dayanand uses his skill
as a writer to help others like him to write home to their loved ones.
the film fleshes out Dayanand, it leaves us asking questions about some
of the other men. Like the young boy who delivers and collects clothes
for ironing every day. And his colleagues, who spend the whole day
ironing clothes in a hot room and say that if they do such work for
more than eight months they fall sick. We watch them cook dal and rice
and eat it in the same room where they have worked all day, and where
they will sleep. The lucky ones sleep on the ironing tables; the
others, like the delivery boy, sleep in the space below the tables. Who
are these men? Where did they come from? What is their future?
intriguing is the young delivery boy who runs up and down stairs
carrying groceries and always smiling. Not everyone pays him the entire
amount of the bill. Often people tell him to come back later for the
money. It is amazing how people with fixed incomes and secure jobs
demand credit from those who work on minute margins. Of course, no one
bothers to tip the boy for the service he provides.
Clockwork routine

what about the security guard, Sonu? He spends his day opening and
closing the gate of the building depending on which car wants to enter
or leave. His additional job is to make sure that water is pumped up to
the overhead tanks. For this, he must go to the roof of the building,
open the tanks and check, wait until they are filled up — an overflow
will fetch a reprimand — and then lock the covers of the tanks and come
down. Rain or shine, this job must be done. Even in a Mumbai monsoon,
without a raincoat or umbrella.
people who live in the Mumbai that is not a slum, all this is familiar.
Something similar must happen in most of our bigger cities that are
increasingly going vertical. Even in those cities that have housing
colonies with individual houses, there is a similar silent army of
workers that provide an almost unacknowledged service.
when we think of the economy in many cities changing from industrial to
the service sector, these are the kind of services that are drawing in
the majority of people. The formal sector only caters to a minute
percentage of the total workforce.
No rights

service providers are also the bulk of the city’s homeless — people who
live in informal settlements with no security of tenure. Many of them
earn far less than the minimum wage but their sense of security is
based on a system of kinship that provides them with employment and a
place to live. In Mumbai, over half the population lives in informal
settlements. And in India as a whole, 85 per cent of the working
population is employed in the informal sector, in jobs like the ones
described above as well as many others. Without such people, Mumbai
would come to a dead halt. Yet, these workers are not organised, they
cannot demand better working conditions or higher wages, and they
certainly cannot afford to stop work even for a day.
we cannot change this reality. For many people like Dayanand, cities
like Mumbai are attractive because they provide so many diverse avenues
for employment. The least that we, who are served and looked after by
these silent servers, can do is to acknowledge their presence, know who
they are and accept that without them our cities would collapse.
 Kalpana Sharma
Independent Journalist/Columnis t
Email: kalpusharma@ gmail.com/sharma.kalpana@ yahoo.com

Home page: http://www.indiatog ether.org/ opinions/ kalpana/
Blog: http://kscribe- kalpanasharma. blogspot. com/

Nishtha Jain
N 1001 Bhoomi Park Phase III
Near Jan Kalyan Nagar, Off Marve Road, 
Malad West, Mumbai 400095
tel +91 22 28691393; 
mob +919819417194
www.raintreefilms. net
www.lakshmiandme. com

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