“Shanghai”: A scathing, un-Indian satire! #slumdemolitions

Preview: <i>Shanghai</i>

Shanghai is filled with delightful layers of satire, says Satyen K Bordoloi as he tries to peel off a few.

There couldn’t have been a better time for the release of Shanghai. Since two weeks, slum dwellers of Sion-Koliwada have been waging a pitched, non-violent battle against the police, backed by the government, and builders to try save their homes.

To have a film talking about corporate land grab in Mumbai and political corruption release at this time: priceless.

But that is the first satire of Shanghai. There will never be a ‘wrong’ time to release it because in Mumbai the corporate/rich/middle-class need for perennial ‘development’ and the reality of poor, working, struggling masses have always been at war. This war will continue till either Mumbai is ‘Shanghaied’ or its people are.

Though the cliche is that Indians lack a sense of humour, what we truly lack is a sense of satire. Dibakar Banerjee‘s Shanghai with its layers of satire, allegories and allusions is as un-Indian a film as it can get.

Brilliant opening

In one of the most brilliant opening shots in recent times, the camera fixed high above, frames a part of the city. Around 30-40 per cent of it seems occupied by what looks like white, well made ‘houses’. The rest 60-70% is obviously slums.

In this two-second shot Shanghai establishes the reality of both the film and the city in which it is based. Because 60-70 per cent people in the world’s most populated metropolis (if you also consider its satellites), Mumbai, live in slums with the threat of eviction constantly looming like Damocles‘ sword, despite a majority of them paying everything from property tax to electricity bills – like the residents of Sion-Koliwada.

Read full SIFY article here

Dear chief minister, is this rioting?

Javed Iqbal- DNA

Dear chief minister, is this rioting?

Jameel Akhtar Sheikh was defending his Ambujwadi home from demolition for two days, before he had gone to Sion Koliwada to help the original inhabitants of Mumbai, the Kolis, to defend one home that had been previously demolished on the same day he and thousand of his neighbours chased away bulldozers at his home back in Malad.

After the reprieve at his home, two days later, at Sion Koliwada, on May 31, he lay down before the bulldozer in an act of passive resistance, and would eventually be dragged away and arrested, charged for rioting amongst other charges.

Just two days ago, in a rally in Ambujwadi he would speak without a microphone to thousands of other residents, exhorting, ‘Where do you think Shah Rukh Khan stays? Who do you think made Anil Ambani’s home? We did!’

Today, he is among 25 individuals arrested by the Sion police at Sion Koliwada, along with 24 other women, including Madhuri Shivkar, the young leader of the resistance against Sahana Developers. She was the first woman to be dragged off by lady constables as she sat on dharna, without sleep, for over 19 hours. She has further charges slapped on her, and the police have demanded further custody for her, due to ‘serious complaints already filed against her’, but all her nieghbours know that this is only because she is the de facto leader of the opposition to the builder at Sion Koliwada.

Now, 24 women and one man were arrested and charged under IPC Sections 143, 147, 149, 152, 332, 333, 353, 504.

According to the police, the protestors had not only resorted to rioting and injuring a lady constable Kalawati Ravindra Sinha, 54, who would be admitted to Hinduja Hospital, but they also illegally rebuilt a home that the residents claim was illegally demolished.

The police also demanded police custody of the protestors till June 7 fearing they would return to protest, and return to ‘provoke’ the residents. Their only eyewitness is another police constable, while residents had video footage of the so-called riot, where every person who was arrested was picked up from the ground when they were lying down before the bulldozer.

At the police station, no one was allowed to meet the accused and even after all the protestors were sent to the Nagpada police station, no one was allowed to send them any food. Journalists were also not allowed to interview senior police officials.

The protestors remained in police custody all night and would complain before the Kurla magistrate court that their medical tests were not done properly. Allegations of abuse have been widely circulated in the Sion village, and just two days earlier a young Frank Fernandes sat in a police van with torn shirts, showing tell-tale signs of police violence.

A few of the police’s justifications for demanding police custody make an interesting indication of naked police aggression. In the first information report, they claim that if the protestors are released they would hurt the ‘peaceful environment’ in the area.

Read full article here


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October 2021
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