Cityscape: Street Children on Republic Day
Duration: 00:26:10; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 224.275; Saturation: 0.051; Lightness: 0.308; Volume: 0.199; Cuts per Minute: 15.016
Summary: It was 52nd anniversary of Republic of India. The fifty two years of constitutional democracy, electoral politics, language based federalism and assertion of the nation state in public life we come to the iconic rendering of it. The nation warms up to the nation state and the metropolis makes a display of that. The authorized and prioritized citizens belonging to the middle class display their allegiance to the nation state by making the national flag a fashionable accessory. That provides some children of the lesser god an opportunity to make quick bucks. Long live the republic!
We drive down the Western Express highway in search of the Indian Republic on the street. The street vendors at the Andheri-Kurla signal (below the under construction flyover) sale beautifully crafter mini umbrellas with the design of the national flag. Obviously the USP is that an umbrella can easily be hanged above the car dashboard. Could there also be a logic of the umbrella symbolizing as the benevolent state?
We reached the airport signal dotted with small children selling tiny flags
Andheri airport, Mumbai
Northern Suburbs, Bombay
Handheld long shot of the street at the traffic signal. Children of various sizes selling national flags. Paper flags pasted on thin sticks. They are nonchalant about the camera. We look for a story , a sad face to demonstrate the irony of the situation. But the children defy any such construction. It is an usual day in a comfort zone for them - only difference is that the national flag should do a better business than the regular sale of tabloids. From where do they get these flags to sale? Which agency gives them the merchandise? What is the deal?
The imposing steel of the cars, the flimsy paper of the flags, the ragged face of the vendor, the reflection of the car driver and the moving traffic. An annual day in an usual set up. We are desperately trying to zero down on a protagonists, but the children are betraying the narrative to grow beyond a one liner. Maybe the girl in school uniform - obviously a discarded garb donated by some generous middleclass family - has the potential to be the protagonist.
Handheld long shot from the opposite angle. Camera tilts up to the flying aircraft in the sky. The aircraft hides behind the high rise building and the camera comes down to the street of pedestrian children and motorists. By now we have managed to focus on our protagonists - the uniform clad girl in blue. We have even reached to a silent agreement where she would play a hide and seek with the camera like a real pro in show biz. Other children too want similar attention but they (as they say in media practices ) do not have it in them.
A new location. More residential in nature than the highway. The vendors here are teenagers and mostly boys. Their merchandise too are little more sophisticated. National flags stacked in long bamboo poles - much like balloons or paper toys. Close up of passing cars punctuated with the colourfulness of the flags on sale. Some vendors in bicycle, one is even on a disabled people's tricycle. The boys are jovial and camera makes them more animated. But that not necessarily increase their sale. Only the tri colour of the national flag enrich the drab cityscape.
JVPD circle, Bombay
Close up of the bunch of national flags against the blue sky - a familiar sight that has been invoking patriotic emotion for five decades. Camera tilts down to the mundane of the street cultures and vending business.
In search of a narrative we try to focus on faces -dark, boney, ragged faces and the tri colours. But still the comfort and the regularity displayed by the children dismisses any coherent narrative.
We try to follow some sale deal. By now hardly any flag was getting sold. But nobody was lamenting over that. Again we wondered at the economics of it. But the sky is exceptionally blue today and the tri colours of the national flag (affectionately called tiranga) does look sensuous against the sky.
Another red signal. Sleek, big cars halt. Some children put in little more energy – which look like more out of the need to provide us with a good shot. Morning of the republic day is over. Rest of the day is going to be an ordinary holiday. So the sale wanes.