Mumbai, the glittering city of dreams looks beautiful up-front; its beguiling splendour masks the gaping inequality that is etched on its landscape, visible from above.
The busy city is a picture of contrasts — cramped slums jostle for space alongside fenced luxury skyscrapers reaching for the sky.
American photographer and activist Johnny Miller's project 'Unequal Scenes,' shot by a drone, showcases areas where the disparity between the moneyed class and the have-nots is startlingly apparent. The project aims to spread awareness on the deprivation that countless Mumbaikars have to struggle through.
The disproportion is apparent from above; the slums of Mumbai covered by blue sheets of tarpaulin to protect them from rain are flanked by green-fringed swanky residential and industrial complexes.
These images evoke a sense of shock, discomfort, and surprise, feelings that Johnny Miller meant to awaken within us. We are unintentionally involved in the disenfranchisement which the pictures portray.
These photographs are part of Johnny Miller's project which seeks to lay out inequality around the world through the vantage point of a drone. Miller has also included photos from parts of South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, the US, and Mexico in his project.
The picture below shows the foundation of the BKC-Chunabhatti elevated road connecting the posh industrial Banda-Kurla complex with the Eastern Express Highway. On the right side of the photo stand the cramped quarters of the Dharavi slum which formed the backdrop of the movie 'Slumdog Millionaire'. The left side has shiny industrial skyscrapers amidst which stands the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation LTD, separated from the slums by the river.
The highly acclaimed architect PK Das had mapped the slum dwellers within the city of Mumbai and estimated that an incredible 60% of Mumbai's population is made up of slum dwellers. That means 7.5 million people crammed into tiny quarters they are forced to call home.
In a place where affordable housing remains a myth, Miller's images zero in on areas such as Dharavi, Mahim, and the Bandra-Kurla complex which portray the tangible scars of inequality drawn in the city — lines which are meant to separate the poor from the rich.
Miller stumbled upon the use of aerial pictures to create narratives by accident. During a hike to the Table Mountain in South Africa, he used a drone to take a video of him and his friends. The footage gave him a unique perspective of the place, quite different from his own perspective of a place he thought he knew well.
Miller believes in "creating strong, accessible, and accurate narratives can drive mass action, which can drive positive social change."
Change starts with each one of us. Let's do our bit towards making the world a fair place.
All pictures are the intellectual property of Johnny Miller.
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