Fwd: Re: Archive (16) CAMP: General Purpose Editing
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AS: So, we're going to do a short and running version our little... of our original plan, hopefully in... 10 minutes. We've been editing... Graeme just used the word 'edit', could be an 'edit' - Material in and out of the pad.ma archive of many years. And you will also remember that pad.ma was originally about undoing the edit that was part of film making. Like literally in Madhushree's Behrampada project and Shaina's unfinished Bombay film of 2001 in the... many hours of footage from Ship of Theseus, which was actually not a documentary but a fiction film in which the blind woman is a character, from Egypt, part of the revolution, and so on.
AS: Or for example, when we made a film in east Jerusalem, the footage went up before - into https://pad.ma
before the film was made and was also used as a translation platform. This then allowed us to make legible a language that we didn't know. In this case Arabic. So, for the editor everything becomes footage and this was the principle on which then we could leap out of pad.ma. And in this quite humble sense also in the sense that it is a couple of steps away from our own practice, film or video editing, in a way even ordinary sense is ontological, is a basic possibility of having so much material in the form of footage. And so we wanted to show you just a proposal or a project that we started as part of the workshop which is to produce a sort of... a way to combine in a very general sense video, text, images, print material, music. And its something which could be potentially an extension of, or drawing form various Pandora archives.
AS: And we maybe give you short cut of something we've been doing which is this long video lecture formats. The last one was 2 and a half hours long thing on housing in Bombay between 1982 and 2001. Housing, among other things. Or recently we have started doing an event around the police strike in 1982 also in the city. A long sort of video thing we've done on hidden cameras which is also in that form, like a long edit, quite simple but like... narrative. And one involving for example, marking John Berger's death which involved him reading Punjabi poetry about garlic, for example.
AS: So, the housing series of which you will see a small slice goes through a number of ideological stages, starts in the late 40's, turns from a problem to solve in our city into a sort of impossibility, a density of problems and whose first part ends with the young journalist sort of landmark intervention in '82 for the right of people not to be removed as squatters. This kind of... if you want to say in one sentence - its about the conversion of that right to livelihood into a sort of right to squat, which you know ebbs and waxes and wanes as the years go by and produces in some sense the shape of the city.
AS: And the second part of which tries to capture how these form of being there without any legal right to be there turns into organisational forms like Yuva, Spark like Nagri Nivara like things people have been involved with here. And that's the broader outline. We are only able to show you maybe 10 minutes of this, to give you a context of what these edits might look like. This is not the actual demo of the software which we started working with Jan and Seb on last week, who's sitting there, but rather of the slice - a little slice of some of the things - parts of the story. So let's go.
SA: Okay, a very quick slice and Ashok just told me we should make the 30 minutes 15 minutes in the interest of keeping the integrity of the later half the day. So, I quickly take you to the 17th of July 1950. And there is a conference held at Poddar college, not very far from here, saying... then the conference is called Rationing of Living Space in Bombay. At the end of the conference two things happen. The president of the conference decides and informs the people that surplus floor area and palatial buildings that are just lying vacant must be occupied. He hints at something. And at the end of the meeting something called the Greater Bombay Tenants union its formed. And the the 'Greater Bombay' is important here so keep that in mind.
SA: Exactly five days later 250 people march to the maidan
in Worli. It is the monsoons. It is 20th of July and they had been evicted the week before from Mahim causeway. And they call upon Morarji Desai, the socialist home minister at that point, and demand alternative housing. And he typically taalos
them (brushes them aside) and says 'just occupy whatever public land that you see, I will deal with this housing question in due to time'. And so 250 of them march into the Maharaja of Gwalior's palace which is Samudra Mahal. Some of you went to Sanjay's place last night - that is the property, now about 6 different buildings and some business complexes. So they occupy the first and third floor of Samudra Mahal. 62 of them are arrested and rest are the evicted. The next day they re-enter the Gwalior Palace. Of course there's a round of police firing and so on. But G.G Mehta, the president of this newly formed Tenants' union implores on the government to say 'we will occupy all forms of public land'. And again, alludes of the cruelty of the fact that 'you cannot just simply evict us on a monsoon day just as you will from the Mahim causeway, the question of housing has to be addressed'.
SA: So, 5 days later Morarji Desai actually holds another conference and this one is to solve the problem of housing. And interestingly at this moment they cite a survey. So, they say that if we've actually had the squatters and the illegal slums that have come up in this new greater Bombay mapped, and ironically he cites a survey conducted in 1949-1950 by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. And here is the survey Simpreet found it lying in the library of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences who still continue to map people and do surveys.
SS: So, this survey is very interesting as well as weird for many reasons because at one point Tata Institute of Social Sciences sort of places itself at the forefront of issues of social justice in education. But if you will just read this like 24 pages of survey, you will like... so so agitated for the simple use of language that is being used by the professors of TISS to address and to refer to people - ranging from that 'Bombay has been taken over by the people from south India'. Saying that 'squatters have no sense of their own well-being', 'the women of the pavement dwellers are into prostitution' and its goes on and on.
SA: So, at that first Bombay conference to address the housing question Morarji Desai called upon the Bombay Municipal Corporation and the Port Trust, who pretty much owned and had jurisdiction over the island city, to say what can we do. And three months later they say they're solving the squatters problem and they choose a site for what they call Poor Man's Colony. This site now is not anywhere in the island city in these vast tracts of land that belong to the Port Trust and Municipal Corporation but is way out in the east in the edges in the city in a place called Mankhurd. Here's an old map where Mankhurd wasn't Mankhurd but Manbudrok, and these are Farsi words - Budrok
is big and Khurd
is little. So, somehow Manbudrok at the edge of the city becomes Mankhurd. Very little in its imagination and what it can give to the people of the city.
SA: And, from then on there is a systemic move over the next two years to demolish pavement dwellings, demolish squats in the island city and start moving people out into the edge of the city. But that Greater Bombay Tenants union is still very active. They resist. The Sion colony is demolished in December that year. They are forcibly moved there. They protest. The ones that were sent from Mahim vow to return, and they come back to the island city. This is the important thing - they say 'we will come back here, our livelihoods belong to the city'. So you have the commissioner saying 'ah we'll build a train line from Mankhurd so you can come to work'. But there is this resistence to keep moving to the edge of the city.
SA: Eventually, about two years later after a lot of promises, plots in land given, this Poor Man's colony in Mankhurd still remains largely unoccupied and people are resisting and are back in the island city where they live, where they've come to and where they work.
SA: And of course in 1952, Nehru is in Bombay... I guess he's inaugurating a dam. Water will be piped through... he presses a button electronically- electrically to open the sluice gates and water will come through pipes into Vaitarna and then to our homes. But at the same point, at the same time he does address the problem of housing and he says 'why do these squatters want compensations once we like evict them? I think the maybe the nicer thing or the easiest thing to do is just burn the slum'.
SS: So, while we are here, so its... important to go back in like what was happening the year 1950. So it was just not about the eviction of the people but there's something else that was interestingly happening. That was the idea of Greater Bombay. So, Bombay as we understand today was never like this. So Bombay at that time, the limits of the city were up till Mahim and Sion. And beyond that you had what was called Salsette, or Sashti in Marathi which is all of like 66 villages. And in April 1950 the limits which you can see in the blue color of the Bombay city, they are extend up till the middle, not up till Borivali which is the present limit, but uptil Andheri and Majas. And what is does it that... there's another story which is playing out. This is cover of 'Minutes of Dissent' by one of the person who was a board of the village Panchayat who opposed the extension of the limits. Because what was happening was that it was creating another zone of... where criminals could come and criminals could not go - because the limits of the police were also according to the city limits. And also it extended the boundary of the city and it created new spaces and one of the such spaces was the Janta Colony, the Manbudruk were people from the southern part of the city were then shifted and then so-called like 'rehabilitated'. Now we'll just watch like three clips. It's a very radical and a brutal cut from... of Shree 420... ya it's the first and last scene.
SS: Last scene of the film where they are looking at sort of a dream of Janta colony that by people coming together putting in money and demanding from the state that houses should be built. And this a K.A. Abbas the very famous K.A. Abbas with the censor certificate of one of his films, Char Shehar. So, K.A. Abbas was a director, a screenplay writer, novelist, journalist and member of the Progressive Writer Association as well... Theater Association. He was part of many of these endeavors that were taken at that time from... Neecha Nagar,... many such...
SA: And also the screenwriter for Shree 420.
SS: And at the same time during the 1950s there is this thing going on which now even resonates till date is the Deonar farm road rumor. So Deonar farm road is a particular road street in Chembur where it is said that in 1950s sometime Nehru was having tea together with Raj Kapoor as well Homi Bhabha and Jamshedji Tata. And in that sort of conversation over tea all of these three people, they shared their imagination of future India which would have cutting edge scientific nuclear research and at the cultural realm Raj kapoor was here and at the social science level you had Jamshed ji Tata. And they shared that dream and in that conversation they all get a land in the vicinity of each other. And that's how you have the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and R.K studios just next to each other. But as they say its a rumor but it still sort of goes...
SA: And of course, for us its also now the dumping ground and...
SS: ... the abattoir.
SA: ... the abattoir.
AS: So, we'll skip all these clips since we are out of time, and we'll try to save time. But the story that we are trying to tell of a particular generic colony called Janta colony turned into a specific colony called Janta colony ends with the site being taken over by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. The old Mankhurd site which then appears also remarkably, just one clip maybe, in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's first film called... (An Encounter with Faces) [...] which is a childrens homes in Mankhurd. There many other threads in the archive which we'll have to talk about later.
AS: And this ends with the movement of the people of Janta colony into what is now called Cheeta camp, further down into the marsh. And that Janta colony started as an ideal in 50's ends with displacement in 1976. But at that time there are several sort of young organisations out of whom comes a whole trajectory of work among people in Bombay including P.K. Das, (?), Collin Gonzalves etc, who were part of something called BUILD which was a christian revolutionary liberation theology agency, very active in Bombay. And who were a major part of the- both the resistance to the displacement of Janta colony but also the re-settling in Cheeta camp. And this is a shot of Saeed Akhtar Mirza shooting his first film in Janta colony called... we don't even know if its called that exactly - urban housing and slum eviction - shot probably in 1976 from which this thread continues in part 2.
AS: So, that was sorry 15 minutes of a two hour story. Sorry to cut it short. But the idea is that we will be able to pull from... all this material is coming from pad.ma, indiancine.ma documents, images and texts. And will be able to turn into a... online sort of essay what we've being doing as a live video lecture. So that's the idea. Thanks a lot.