By Jeet Mashru for HINDUSTAN TIMES
Published on Dec 14, 2022 12:45 AM IST
Mumbai: Two short films from Mumbai won a Nagari 2022 short film competition organised by the Charles Correa foundation (CCF). The Nagari short film competition is an annual competition designed to guide and develop films that focus on urban issues specific to Indian cities.
The Charles Correa Foundation, which organised the competition, is an initiative of internationally renowned architect and urban planner Charles Correa. After receiving an initial plan, film-makers whose ideas are shortlisted are allotted a mentor to guide them through the whole documentary process.
The two films from Mumbai that won awards are ‘Pipe Dream’ and ‘The Chaviwallahs of Mumbai’. The first won a Special Jury Award and the second a Jury Commendation award. Both films focus on the struggles around getting a water connection in a city like Mumbai.
The story of ‘The Chaviwallahs of Mumbai’ by Akanksha Gupta and Gopal MS focuses on the politics of the water distribution system in Mumbai. The chaviwallahs in the title refer to the key men who open and close valves, which control in which direction the water will flow. “Everybody has a unique vision of society and water,” said Gupta. “Mumbai is a place that does not have many natural water resources and relies a lot on piped water. The idea was to look at the distribution of the piped water and the disparity in how it is distributed. Water flows in the city but it keeps changing its direction based on various kinds of influences. We looked at physical influences, political influences, social influences and how they are perpetuated in the system and the way they affect the community and migrants.”
‘Pipe Dreams’, which won a Special Jury award, is by Suraj Katra, Jai Mati, Prachi Adesara and Sitaram Shelar. The film is about an Andheri West resident, Jai Mati, who lives in an informal settlement, and how he navigates the complex process of applying for a water connection with the city authority.
Home to nearly 1,000 people, Siddharth Nagar, where Mati lives, does not have access to the city’s official water. Residents buy water from shops, transport containers from employers’ houses, and hire private water tankers to fulfil their water needs. Directed and edited by Suraj Katra and shot by Prachi Adesara, the film showcases how Jai Mati took the lead in getting a water connection by navigating the bureaucratic process.
The movie is dedicated to the Pani Haq Samiti and is an advocacy of the right to water. “Everyone should get a piped connection but the process is so complicated that it takes nearly five to six years of paperwork,” said Katra. “This is what the story depicts. I have been working on this issue since 2019 and documenting the process of getting a water connection in different areas. This is my first ever film as a director and editor.”
The film also showcases vocals by Pani Haq Samiti, which asks the government to listen to the story of water, the politics behind it and the life of a migrant living in an informal settlement in Mumbai. Both films, mentored by Avijit Mukul Kishore, are available to watch for free on the Youtube platform.