A Roof of One’s Own

Ek Chhat ki Talaash Mein
Hindi, Marathi, English (with English subtitles), 116 min, 2015, India

'A Roof of One's Own' (Ek Chhat ki Talaash Mein) is a series that explores the theme of shelter in Mumbai. In a city where housing is seen not as a basic right for all but as a profitable investment for a few, finding a home is not easy. From the Adivasis of Aarey Milk Colony to the beach dwellers at Chowpatty, from transgendered people to those who live their lives in transit camps and resettlement colonies, the films explore many stories of hope and struggle.

Kiska Jungle, Kiska Mangal? (Whose Forest is it anyway?)
Directors: Aditi Saraswat, Akshay Panse, Rameshwar Jirwankar, Sujata Sarkar and Tanvi Khemani
Marathi and Hindi with English subtitles, 22 min, 2015
As Mumbai develops towards the suburbs, the forests of Aarey Milk Colony are being encroached upon by government development projects, slum settlements and private real estate projects. The film explores the impact of such development on the lives of the natives of Aarey. While some Adivasi hamlets have to compete for resources with illegal slums that have mushroomed there, others were displaced into an SRA building due to a large-scale real estate project. As the Adivasis of Aarey struggle to maintain their age-old relationship with the forests and lands of Aarey, we ask: Whose forest is it anyway?
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Raet ke Mahal (Sand Castles)
Directors: Akash Basumatari, Arjun Chavah, Maanvi and Priyamvada Jagia
Hindi with English subtitles, 24 min, 2015

What is a ‘home’? Is it the same as a house? Or does it mean something else? Sand Castles or Raeton ka Mahal (2015) is a film that looks at homelessness in Mumbai through the eyes of people living on Girgaum Chowpatty. In the process of looking at ‘home’, the film discovers intertwining issues of sustaining livelihood, stereotypes about the poor, dignity and self-respect, ineffective laws and unreal demolitions in the city. When Tulsi Thakur, one of the many living in Girgaum Chowpatty is able to find a house, the questions assume another form, unravelling the unending struggle for a roof to live in the ever changing, harsh and liberating city of Mumbai.
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Directors: Pranali Garud, Nayantara Nayar, Tarishi Verma and Vishal Langthasa
Hindi, Marathi, English with English subtitles, 18 min, 2015

Sidharth Nagar in Thane (East), is a microcosm of Mumbai city with its own share of shiny towers, functional looking buildings constructed under the Slum Rehabilitation Development and one of the last jhopadpattis (informal housing settlements) of Thane. These lives exist as if they were oblivious to each other and yet, they are conjoined in ways they are unaware of. This film documents the different histories of people in this area and how the same area can be simultaneously similar and different for three seemingly different classes of people.
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Chakwa (How I Learnt to Stop Worrying about the Slum)
Directors: Akshat Jain, Arpita Katiyar, Rajendra Jadhav, Shreya Sachan and Swati Kamble
English, Marathi and Hindi with English subtitles, 27 min, 2015

This film is an attempt to present the living realities of people who are stuck in three slums of Mumbai: Shramjeevi Nagar, a legal slum, where people are waiting to be rehabilitated; Lallubhai Compound where people have been rehabilitated; and Transit Camp, which is a place in between the slum and the rehabilitated building. The film shows how the three places are as bad as each other and there is no rehabilitation for the poor.
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Where the Blue Lotus Blooms…
Directors: Anand Gautam, Geetha K Wilson, Radhika Agarwal, Saurabh Kumar and Shreya Katyayini
Hindi and English, 25 min, 2015

A home is not merely a physical space; it is a space of belonging- a space of acceptance and dignity. 'Where the blue lotus blooms' is a film made at home with four Transgenders – Joanna, Pradipta, Sree and Urmi – who are from various social and physical spaces in Mumbai. Cutting through the identity of being a transgender, in a world dominated by the cisgenders (the so called ‘normal’ people) along with the social prejudices that come with it, they speak to each other about how they negotiate the space they call home.
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School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Commissioning editors: Anjali Monteiro and K.P. Jayasankar