New Asian Currents [INDIA]


- INDIA / 2003 / English / Color / Video / 6 min

Director, Script, Editing, Sound, Producer: Vani Subramanian
Photography: Desmond Roberts
Music: Sheila Chandra
Source: Vani Subramanian
359 SFS Flats, Hauz Khas, New Delhi 110016 INDIA
Phone: 91-11-2685-4504, 91-11-2660-1664
Fax: 91-11-2660-1664
E-mail: vanisuro@vsnl.net

Slums must be demolished to “improve” New Delhi?! A woman sees her home of nine years suddenly razed to the ground, and her letter begging for help blinks on the computer screen. Artificially colored images overlap to the accompaniment of an a cappella chorus. This short takes a tongue-in-cheek look at recent urban development policy.

[Director’s Statement] In 1982, the Asian Games were to be held in New Delhi. By the time the teams were flying in, Le Corbusier’s vision of colonial grandeur had metamorphosed into a symbol of modernity. And soon, the city grew to love its new robes. But the hands that created the transformation were swiftly forgotten, doomed to become nothing more than homeless populations with nowhere to go.

At the turn of the century, New Delhi’s aspirations have gone global. Amid superhighways, hatchback vehicles, multinational corporations and the suburban syndrome, the metropolis has no space for the embarrassment and horror of the poor and their slums, or the ugly shadow they cast over Delhi’s glistening self-image.

Consequently, New Delhi has been witness to a spate of demolitions over the past years. But 2000-2001 was the worst ever. More than 15,000 jhuggis (shacks), home to about 100,000 people were destroyed. Thousands were forced to leave the city and countless others lost their livelihoods. Most of the families have not been relocated. And those who have continue to live without basic public services like water supply, sanitation and even road connections. Just so the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and other government agencies could “reclaim” 1.5% of the total urban area of New Delhi.

Welcome to the capital city of India.

NEW (improved) DELHI.

Based on a real-life experience, the film is a thinly veiled appeal to the then Minister of Urban Affairs. But then, Mr. Jagmohan hasn’t earned the title of “Demolition Man” for nothing!

- Vani Subramanian

One time an advertising copywriter, she first worked in the audiovisual medium scripting and co-directing TV commercials. Has been a documentary filmmaker since the mid-nineties and her work has been recognized nationally and internationally and honored at various film festivals. Films include Meals Ready (1996) which won the Second Best Film Award at Film South Asia 1997 in Kathmandu, Padhoge Likhoge Hoge Nawab? (“Is School the Thing That Makes a King?” 1998), Class of 2001 (2001), and Holy Duels of Hola Mohalla (2001). New (Improved) Delhi is her latest film, produced independently. It reflects some of her concerns as a resident of New Delhi since 1984.

• New Asian Currents | Sand and Water | Wellspring | Three-Five People | Homesick | The Circle’s Corner | The Maze of Lanes | Nee Engey—Where Are You | NEW (IMPROVED) DELHI—Director’s Cut | A Night of Prophecy | 150 Seconds Ago | The Ballad of Life | Noah’s Ark | The Old Man of Hara | Dandelion | Hibakusha—At the End of the World | 3rd Vol.2—2 Light House | And Thereafter | Dust Buries Sabuk | Family Project: House of a Father | Edit | Gina Kim’s Video Diary | Ordo | Her and Him Van Leo | The Big Durian | Perpetual Motion | Debris | Hard Good Life | Nail | The Rhythm in Wulu Village | A Short Journey • Jurors | Kim Dong-won | Kawase Naomi • New Asian Currents Special | Part 1 | Part 2