Well being a media student, Right from the day I entered my college the very first thing our HOD mentioned was "Being a media student it is mandatory for you guys to know what is happening around the world and read newspapers daily". Indeed it's true. But my notion on being a media student is that if you are a media student, you just can't fear travelling, be it anywhere, in your city or out of your state or country. Just explore different places and discover things which not only shock you but others too. Face reality and show reality is what I believe in.
I think this was the sole reason why I decided to make a short film along with my friends on Dharavi. For our subject, Understanding Cinema, which required us to make short movies. We had the guts to go ahead with Dharavi being our location for the movie. Trust me, having spent 6 years of my life in Mumbai, never did this idea even trigger my mind that let's go and visit this place . The sparkling and fast paced life of Mumbai, the night life, the pleasing Marine drive and Gateway and the adventurous Essel world and water kingdom are just one side of the coin. Discover the undiscovered. Dharavi, Asia's largest slum is actuaaly the reason why Mumbai is not floating in garbages today. There's a story behing everything here and these stories are the building blocks of this place. Dharavi Dream's big, has immense talent and skilled laborers, yet they are left unidentified.
Before visiting this place, I felt Dharavi is just about slums and garbage which has Muslim dominance and people are very poor. But Dharavi is not about slums, but it's about slumdog millionaires. I was shocked to discover that the population comprised of 70% hindus and only 30% Muslims. Unveiled. It was unbelievable. But sadly, this place is just like a vote bank for the politicians. Politicians are victorious in influencing the locals during elections but there has been no improvements yet. Lack of accountability is the primary trait found in almost every politician in our country.
Dharavi is a land of opportunities. The people here are not at all poor, infact most of them are quiet rich but prefer staying in such a condition just because they are habituated. For our shoot, we needed a house and a Gujarati family allowed us to shoot at their place. The house was so small that you could just sleep there, and they were 5 members living there, and yet their monthly income was 40,000 rs. You will definitely find all the means of survival required in their house. It is not the kind of place you will like to visit when you are travelling to Mumbai, but you will be shocked to hear that even this place has tour trips. Dharavi has tour boys who guide you and briefly explain you about the story behind Dharavi. We were lucky to have found some foreigners and it was indeed interesting to hear what they felt about India and specially Dharavi.
In the morning you will find men and women getting ready because everyone does not have access to washrooms there. Tea is like oxygen for them. They need it every hour so a tea wala boy will always be ready with his supply. Mutton shops is like everywhere. Being a vegetarian it made me feel disgusted, yet I had to face. You will love eating the kababs and chicken here. They are really famous. Life is indeed very fast here too.
The main attractions here will be the leather shops, shops selling pots and diyas, you can actually see the entire procedure as it goes, and the glass industry. They are very talented. This place is a must visit for all those who feel Dharavi is just for the poor. It's not. It's the opposite. A land where people are so warm and welcoming, explaining about their culture and family background,means of survival and the hardships faced in their life.