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Lens and the City | The Indian Express

Summary. Related. In Uma Tanuku’s Night Hawks, the camera follows four different sets of people in Delhi — a music band at a wedding, a patrolling unit at work, a night shelter for children and vegetable vendors. In its non-intrusive style, the film forms a picture of migrant dynamics in the Capital, once the night creeps in. Similarly, Anirban Datta’s Wasted takes a philosophical look at waste in Indian cities. These are just two examples of films to be screened at Sheharnama, a festival of documentary and short films that explore city-based themes. The three-day festival, from January 30 to February 1, will act as a precursor to the upcoming Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF). “The idea is to unravel the layers that form the city experience — the churning of cities and explore the cracks and the edges,” says Surabhi Sharma, a documentary filmmaker and the curator of the festival, along with fellow filmmaker Avijit Mukul Kishore. Sharma’s film from last year, Bidesia in Bambai, captures the plight of the Bhojpuri-speaking migrants in Mumbai. With cities as the overarching theme, the films to be showcased examine issues of gender, caste, labour, inclusion, exclusion, politics and culture. The focus is on stories from developing countries, across the Global South, from Africa to Latin America and Asia. Despite the differences, problems such as homelessness and poverty are often the same. There will be films from China, Philippines, Iran and Syria among others. In Indian films, the curators go beyond big metros to tell stories from smaller cities such as Madurai and Darjeeling. The festival — organised by Films Division and ActionAids, an organisation addressing urban issues — will see a wide spectrum of films from across the country — new documentaries and shorts from film and design institutes to old, forgotten ones, but of contemporary relevance. Among them are Deepa Dhanraj’s Kya Hua Iss Shahar Ko?, a recently restored documentary film on the communal riots of Hyderabad made in 1986. Or The Boy in the Branch, a 1993 film that captures the proselytisation of young Hindu boys to communal militants by right wing Hindu groups. “These films are fully erased and forgotten from the time they were made but they resonate more than ever now,” says Sharma. With eight hours of programming, each day of the festival will see discussions with many of the filmmakers as well. Sheharnama will be held at Mayor’s Hall, All India Institute of Local Self Governance, Juhu Galli.
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