Mumbai- The city of Dreams, a city which never sleeps, is the financial capital of our country. There is no dearth of glamour, glaze and enthusiasm in this city. This city breathes life. It is “a place where everything is possible” especially the impossible. This city attracted numerous migrants from the 17th century from different cultures and continues to do so till today, with dreams they wish to build upon.
Dharavi by Sudhir Mishra is a story of one such very ambitious migrant RajKaran (Om Puri) whos been staying in Mumbai since 17 years in a slum called Dharavi located at what was then the city’s edge. It gives one an insight into the life in the Slums of Mumbai.
Rajkaran is a cab-driver living in a tidy, one-room Dharavi shack with his mother , his wife Kumud (Shabana Azmi), and their son. He yearns for success in business and a better life and hence is gathering funds to buy a small cloth-dying factory. When one of his partners pulls out unexpectedly, Rajkaran reluctantly accepts a loan from the local underworld boss Tiravi, whose goons are suspected to be behind any number of neighborhood beatings and murders. Now indebted to Tiravi, Rajkaran finds himself drawn into ever more shady dealings, to the despair of Kumud, whose brother dared to stand up to Tiravi’s tyrrany and was murdered for it. Kumud finds solace in the peaceful company of her first husband Shankar, with whom she had parted ways years before, and who has returned to Dharavi helpless and partially paralyzed after suffering a stroke. On the verge of losing his livelihood and alienating his family, Rajkaran grows ever more desperate and turns towards crime and petty stealing.
This movie paints a clear picture of not only the life of people in slums but also of our city Mumbai on its path of urbanization and globalization. During the movie one can see the present skyline of Mumbai in its making as the backdrop of Dharavi which is now located at the centre of our city.
The movie shows us a glimpse of how vibrant the social life of people in the slums is. Though their life is like an open book, where no one can keep secrets from their neighbours, they enjoy their life by watching movies together at the chowk, dancing together in someone’s happiness and making the most out of their day to day work of drying papads and washing clothes by sharing the neighbourhood gossips. Though at a constant threat from the middlemen for their basic necessities the lead female makes sure that their ‘kholi’ is kept clean, organized and tries to give it a personal touch by adding a few potted plants and carpets.
Also this movie is an example of how the crime culture in Mumbai affected everyone right from the richest to the poorest inhabitants of the city.
Though the story of the movie is harrowing yet compelling, and though its focus is a depressing tale of defeat and loss, it somehow achieves a hopeful tone at the end. The movie shows that it is not easy to survive in this city but the only mantra which can help one do so is to never lose hope and continue to struggle towards achieving ones dreams.
(P.S. – Its my first attempt at writing a movie review. The reason behind writing this review is not to critic the movie and hence it doesn’t talk about the quality of acting of the characters but to learn something out of the picture the movie is tying to paint in front of our eyes. To relate and compare this scenario portrayed by the movie about Mumbai and specifically Dharavi 20 years ago to the present Mumbai and try and understand the reasons for this urban sprawl and the resulting conditions of the urban poor. Hope this movie gets you thinking because that is where it all starts!)