Imagine living in a tall skyscraper in the city of Mumbai. Sounds great right? Now, go a little inside and imagine living in small, cramped apartments within close quarters of your neighbours, with no proper ventilation in the same skyscraper.
Such is the state of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority building in Mumbai. The residents have to live within a few feet of each other, which is particularly worrisome now in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. With no other housing alternatives, these people are making the best out of this situation.
Housing experts and activists have expressed outrage at the developers’ attempt to squeeze the poor into a tiny corner of the plot to make way for bigger commercial projects. Here’s the entire report here.
Despite the completion of all steps for rehabilitation, the housing projects are being termed as a ‘slums’. In a day and age where proximity to our neighbours is feared, one wonders how the residents of the SRP are faring, considering the mass outbreak of the COVID-19. In an interview with Homegrown, Abeer Khan sheds some light on why she chose to document the lives of the people residing deep within the SRA building.
What is your project based on?
Makaan is a photo essay and a video based on the sense of being and the collapsing identities of people in Mumbai’s slum rehabilitation project - SRA buildings. It’s a visual narrative of people living in common passages of these buildings due to limited space.
Tell us whose work has inspired you over the years and why?
I am greatly inspired by my aunt Shakila Bano Bhopali— a veteran Qawwali performer. Hailing from a conservative and poor Muslim family, she could hardly attend school but her love for Urdu poetry prevailed. Music was prohibited in her household, however, she not only aced that part but at a later stage got her mother to play the Harmonium during the Qawwali performances. She managed to create a mark for herself. She had fame, wealth, and respect despite her circumstances.
Can you shed some light on your creative process?
I like to observe and look for patterns to understand complex human desires. Introduction of fragile acts of humans born out of the unconscious realm—in the form of stories.
Major shoutout to these artists...
@fegaleano - Illustrator
@rudhacharya - Digital painter
@sharongriffinart - Ceramic sculptor
@vineet_vohra - Photographer
Any particular piece of art that has impacted your world view deeply?
‘Close-up’ by Abbas Kiarostami - It’s an Iranian film showcasing a world of humility, pride, and grace. For every person who thinks the lead character’s actions are horrible, Abbas is bold enough to portray them in the light of absolute truth.
Can you tell us about one favourite work of your own?
Window Seat, as it is one of those rare projects where the creative gap is marginal.
Deep dive into Abeer’s life...
One song that has you immersed in its beautiful notes?
Kumar Gandharav’s Sakhiyan Wa Ghar Sab Se Nayara: Bhajan (Kabir).
Any particular projects that you wish you’d have been a part of?
About Elly, an Iranian film— to gain insight into working with actors that effortlessly.
Bread Butter and Tea with South Park.
No vice of mine is as great as...
Vindictive behaviour (Ouch!)
If you like Abeer’s work, check out her website for more.
You may follow her on Instagram.
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