wiki:Hamara Shaher

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Hamara Shaher

aka Bombay Our City 1985 82’ col Hindi/Tamil/English/Marathi? d/p/s/co-c Anand Patwardhan co-c Vijay Khambati, Pervez Mehrwanji, Venugopal Thakker Hindi voice-over Deepa Arora, Rita Bhatia, Supriya Pathak, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Rahul Varma

Patwardhan’s most acclaimed documentary, made on 16mm, tells of Bombay’s millions of pavement-dwellers. Throughout the early 80s there were several brutal efforts to evict families who lived in illegal tenements and on pavements although they provided the city with the casual (esp. construction) labour crucial to its economy. The film looks at the culture of Bombay’s elite, often contrasting what they say with the physical conditions in which they say it: the former municipal commissioner bemoans the lack of space in the city while his pet dog trots around his spacious garden; the Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro, in a speech at the Advertising Club, talks about the poor as ‘low-quality, low-intelligence’ people. The pavement-dwellers work in the construction industry in the city’s expensive Nariman Point area on land reclaimed from the sea, while massing clouds on the horizon evoke the possibility of an unbalanced environment which may cause tidal waves to wash away their seaside huts. The film achieves epic dimensions in three remarkable sequences. Street urchins sell the Indian flag on a rainy Independence Day, keeping their precious commodities dry while the huge Gothic facade of the Victoria Terminus presides over a police march-past; in the thick of the monsoon, a child in one of the homeless families dies; a woman pavement-dweller’s angry outburst at the film-makers, all highlight the issues involved in the making of this type of documentary.