Jari Mari: Of Cloth and Other Stories
INDIA / 2001 / Hindi / Color / Video / 74 min
Director, Producer: Surabhi Sharma
Photography: Setu Pande
Editing: Jabeen Merchant
Sound: Gissy Michael
Music: D. Wood, Vipin Bhati
Source: Surabhi Sharma
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Jari Mari is a sprawling slum colony next to Mumbai’s airport, where planes ceaselessly take off and touch down. More and more textile mills, formerly the economic foundation of the city, have been shut down in recent years, while Jari Mari’s narrow lanes are increasingly full of small sweatshops where women and men work for a pittance, leading an unsteady existence. “Who knows if there’ll be work tomorrow,” “The airport authorities want to demolish our dwellings to expand,” “The floods swept away all our property on the ground floor of our shack”... In the wake of a weakening organized labor, the working poor can only face the camera and their lives in a matter-of-fact manner. The resilient women’s hands never stop working even as they speak to the camera.
[Directors Statement] The past decade has been a witness to significant changes, in both systems and perceptions, with regard to India’s economy. These measures, collectively referred to as “liberalization,” will herald (or so we are told) the new-age global society.
The worker huddled in a small shed producing garments meant for western markets is in sharp contrast to the glitz of neon signs that proclaim the coming of age of Mumbai as a global financial centre.
As a fresh graduate from the Film Institute, I was struck by the almost complete invisibility of the worker in images conjured up by the media. Having lived for many years in Mumbai, I had understood, and experienced this city as the foremost industrial centre of the country.
Barely two decades ago the workers’ significant presence was mirrored in the longest strike in history. And yet the 1990s saw the erasure of the worker from the city’s identity. Within a decade mills and factories had shut down, leaving workers jobless with little or no compensation.
Work continues ceaselessly in alleys behind these huge empty structures.
The people I film live in the shadows of empty factories and mills. They work in small sweatshops, insecure conditions and low wages.
We tried to listen to and record what this means, amidst the roar of planes getting ready to land and take off at an arms’ length.
Born in 1970. Graduated in Psychology and Anthropology from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. As part of theater group Arpana, acted in plays directed by Satyadev Dubey and Sunil Shanbag. Studied at the Social Communications Media division of Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai. Went on to do film direction at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. Worked as an associate director on Kumar Talkies, a documentary film directed by Pankaj Rishi Kumar (YIDFF ’99). Freelanced as a scriptwriter and filmmaker for television. Jari Mari: Of Cloth and Other Stories is her first independent film after graduating from the Film and Television Institute of India.