Posted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:50 am Post subject: Cities of Asia
The Midnight Gardeners of Mumbai
Meet the people who keep their city running while the rest of the world sleeps.
Mumbai is to India what New York is to the United States — a gateway to the world and a world within itself, bursting with life, holding the dreams of millions. Many of these Mumbaikers work at night, part of a vast economy that keeps the city running. Because they’re on the job while much of the city is asleep, their efforts go unseen and unnoticed.
The two men we follow in this film spend their evenings watering small municipal gardens and median strips in the central neighborhood of Mazgaon. Rajesh had a tumultuous youth, orphaned and discriminated against even by his own family. Pravin has experienced formidable work and relationship struggles. He seems a bit lost. As the film ends, we sense Rajesh’s journey has led him to a peaceful place, while Pravin’s future is still uncertain.
In a city of over 20 million people, we’ll never get to hear the stories of most of the people who live and work behind the scenes. A goal of our project was to incorporate portraits of other night-shift workers around the city, to show that the voices we did feature were only a few of many.
One of my favorite portraits, the first one we did, did not make it into the final version. It was of Ganesh, a small, unassuming man who wore a faded brown uniform and quietly swept the sidewalk as we filmed. We asked if we could take his picture; he agreed. When he posed, his eyes lit up as he grinned from ear to ear. He shook our hands enthusiastically afterward. Perhaps no one had asked to document a slice of his life before. He watched us film for a little while, then quietly disappeared into the Mumbai night.
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