Mumbai Mill Lands
Duration: 00:56:44; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 21.510; Saturation: 0.028; Lightness: 0.390; Volume: 0.323; Cuts per Minute: 21.786; Words per Minute: 29.453
Summary: Walkthrough of still-working Kohinoor mills (owned by Killick Nixon)
(sound begins here)
Worker: It used to keep coming here and swish about - two have been kept in place of one; this used to keep breaking, so I used to make a new one and give it.
Shekhar: And does anyone transport all this outside? What is that - the thing with the sticks.
Worker: 'Pattela'...it is a guard.
Worker: (pointing to an anvil) It is called 'iron' - I don't know what it is called in English. They use it to flatten pieces of metal.
Shekhar: What was the use of this?
Worker: This is for electric cables...
Shekhar: So, what is this?
Worker: This is used to weigh things.
Shekhar: Just for weighing?
X: Go in?
Shekhar: So tell me, what did this machine do?
Shekhar: So which department is this?
Worker: Weaving Department.
Shekhar: Huh? Weaving, right? And what is the function of this machine?
Worker: It is used to weave clothes.
Shekhar: And how many people worked here?
Worker: Earlier there were around 1000 people.
Shekhar: Okay, around 1000. How many work here now?
Worker: Around 300 people work here now.
P: What is that for?
V: On the machine, all that's cotton wool.
V: Stunning, na? It must be very bad for the health,
V: ...breathing this in and out.
('aa aa aa aa' - a worker calls to geese swimming around in a large water tank, in the mill compound)
Worker: They're ducks, two of them.
Workers: We work hard over here and they sit back and have fun. That is not the company's cloth. Are you writing this too?
(They laugh, then express fear of retribution).
Shekhar: No no. Nothing will happen.
Shekhar: Listen, listen? Would you come and speak, please? No?
Shekhar: Do you all work in this department?
Worker: Yes sir.
Shekhar: In weaving?
Shekhar: So what all do you do here?
Shekhar: Cloth in the sense? Making cloth?
Shekhar: Made from cotton?
Worker: Yes, made from cotton.
Shekhar: So what do these machines do?
Worker: They weave the cloth.
Shekhar: Okay. How does it work?
Worker: It doesn't work, it's all non-functional now.
Shekhar: How does this machine work?
Worker: It works well.
Shekhar: It works well.
Shekhar: It works well?
Worker: The thread that is used...the cotton that is used isn't always of great quality. Therefore, it's very troublesome for the workers.
Worker: If the cotton used is of good quality then the thread will be fine; and then the cloth will be good too.
Shekhar: (listens) Hmm.
Worker: Workers will also be able to work more easily.
Worker: ...The government has kept the wages very low.
(A water body. A lady with a camera films it, and the workers sitting beside it. Three geese come closer to the edge of the water. A mill worker offers them food. Fish just under the surface of the water also feed on this offering.)
(A lady worker in the spinning department works at a spinning machine, inspecting the threads in the process.)
(Sign in Hindi: 'Weaving [Light] Levelling')
Worker's voice: He's from the canteen.
(Workers rest in the factories. They are woken up.)
Shekhar: Hey, don't boss around.
(They are in an elevator, going upwards.)
Worker/Security's voice: Now you are seeing the motor properly, aren't you? This time you worked it out, next time we won't allow this.
(Still going upwards.)
(The elevator stops, camera focusses on spinning machines.)
(Back to the elevator, it begins ascending again.)
(The elevator stops at a floor, which turns out to be the terrace.)
P: Oh my god!
(The sheer extent of the terrace, and the view, is astounding)
P: (whispers) Jesus!
(The skyline - some tile-roofed buildings, several mill chimneys, and in the distance, spindly skyscrapers.)
Shekhar: ...You can take photos of all this as well.
Lady: I know...yeah.
Offscreen voice: This is a five-star hotel.
Shekhar: Five-star hotel? That's of the cigarette factory - ITC - right?
Offscreen voice: (agrees) Hmm.
Offscreen voice: This ground belongs to them only...starts from here. It's (will be?) a big building.
Shekhar: They make cigarettes as well. It's an old cigarette factory. And they got a five-star hotel.
Offscreen voice: It takes half-an-hour to walk, and by train it takes 40 minutes.
P: From Thane?
Offscreen voice: Yes.
Offscreen voice: No, from the station!
P: Ah, yes yes.
P: Hear the train coming?
P: There it is...you can't see it from here!
P: It's very far.
(We see two trains cross each other at the station)
('I love you Dheeraj', written in chalk, on the terrace wall of a smaller building nearby.)
P: Tsk! Can't get a steady shot!
(In the lift again, going down)
(unclear chatter amongst the workers)
Worker1: It's the third floor.
Worker2: Look! Shirke, your photo will come! Shirke, look here.
(Shirke / Worker1 turns, facing the camera)
Shekhar: What department is that?
Worker2: Binding...do you want to see it?
Shekhar: (to P) You should go and see it, it's very nice.
Lady: I have seen it. We can go see it. Let's go.
(Elevator begins to ascend again, to the Binding Department.)
(sideways shot of a chimney)
(walking, along the pavement, possibly within the mill compound)
(restaurant still, audible music and chatter)
(Outside, mill compound)
Shekhar: Were you working in this department itself?
Shekhar: Okay. So, you were in weaving?
Worker: Now all the people resigned and went. And the remaining, most are hoping to go away.
Shekhar: Okay. How many people work here now?
Shekhar: 700. And how many used to work before?
Shekhar: 3,500! In the whole mill or just the weaving department?
Worker: In the whole mill.
Shekhar: And how many worked in the weaving department? In this department only?
Worker: In this department only, approximately 2,000.
Shekhar: Close to 2,000. So this was the biggest department.
Worker: Yes, this was the biggest.
Worker: All of this is wasted and lying..
Worker: What are you filming for?
Shekhar: We are making this to teach the students... this documentation on... we also write about history.
Shekhar: What machine is this?
Worker: This is the weaving machine.
Shekhar: Weaving machine. From where is it?
Worker: This is all dysfunctional. Now this has become bedding.
Worker: This is the same machine as this (pointing to a working machine). Since it doesn't work, people have made this bedding.
Shekhar: Is this machine from England? Or is it from Gwalior?
Worker: Let's see what's written here... Its all of one kind.
(partially legible: "Dupton & Place's Patent Gunnley")
(Camera pans; we see much machinary lying unused, dysfunctional.)
Shekhar: Now not a single machine in this department works? It has shut down completely?
Worker: Yes it has all shut down.
Shekhar: So what do you all do, the whole day?
Worker: What do we do the whole day? We come here and do our 8-hour duty, stand around, we pass time. We are required to serve an 8-hour shift. Once the day is done, we leave. But we have to come in for eight hours...what can we do if everything is shut?
Worker: Sir was telling.. he will teach students history.
Lady: What would you want to say?
Worker: One machine was run by 4 people... one person had to monitor 4 machines at times. And in the auto department, one person had to monitor 8 machines.
Worker: It's been 100 years.
Shekhar: It's been 100 years.
Woker: There used to be a ...(indistinct) here. Raw threads that came in would become 'pakka' here.
(5 mill workers sitting in a circle, playing cards.)
Worker: This one shut down last.
Shekhar: This was the longest-running (department) of all?
Worker: Our department closed first and then this one shut down. Then gradually each department shutdown, from here till the end. There are about 16-17 men here...in our department, there are 300 workers in all.
Worker: If there are totally 50 workers in this department, 300 in our department, and in the remaining departments 100-150; then in total there's 700-800 workers in all. So many men sit together and eat, and work together.
Worker: If one is delayed, they don't get travel fare.
Worker: (unclear, something about a wire inside the thread)
(Now we are outdoors, in the mill compound. We see a water body in what appears to be the back of the mill compound. Camera tilts, we see a chimney.)
(Shot of vehicular traffic passing by on a flyover just outside the mill compound, beyond the water body.)
(5 Birds - ducks / geese, sitting along the edge of the tank. 4 of them seem asleep, one stares blankly, one sticks his bill underwater, possibly feeding. Blankly-staring bird joins in feeding now.)
(back outside to another part of the mill compound.)
Manager(?): If we want to bring down a machine, we will have to pay to have it removed.
Manager(?): The way it is now, someone can give money for the structure. Suppose the girder is okay, we could sell it and get money. We may even get money for the machinery. But... these decisions -
P: Which is the oldest, oldest machine here, like an antique?
(Now the manager leads us towards another part of the mill)
Manager: If the management feels, 'Okay let's run the machines for a bit.' Then little by little...now look, there are 4 looms running here. There is no use in keeping 4 looms running. But we run them for the workers, since they need some work. Overheads are so much... outstanding for this mill, Tata's outstanding is about 3.5 crores.
P: What does that mean?
Manager: Electricity bills; we have not paid electricity bills. Forget about water - that bill must be about 3-4 lakhs rupees.
P: All this machinery-
Machine: They are functional but not running. If we got beams, then we can run these machines. They were running till last month. But if we don't run them for 6 months, all of it will rot away. Then we would have to restore them again...
Shekhar: If you see an India United no. 1-
Manager: ...There used to be a top floor. The cost of that was around 1.5 crores, for the wood(?). Actually the party gave us 28 lakhs, but we make around 1.5 crores.
Manager: Means, to make a shopping plaza...
P: Oh God! What is this mess!
P: How could you leave everything like this?
Manager: It's been here after dismantling. We can't sell it, so it's kept here.
P: But why?
Manager: They are machinery parts. We can sell spares, but not as a machine - we can't sell.
(Outdoors again, we soon pass the water body.)
Manager: This is a pond.
Shekhar: See this is the tank.
(Sound of running machinery gets louder. They pass by the tank, still following the manager.)
Manager: All other buildings were constructed in 1898. Only this building...it is in 1940.
Shekhar: Okay. So this is all 1898?
Manager: Yes, 1898.
Shekhar: And which...it was with Sassoons'?
Manager: (mumbles something, yes or no) Killick Nixon was the owner.
Manager: Killick Nixon.
Shekhar: Killick Nixon?