In Danny Boyles Slumdog Millionaire,Anthony Dod Mantles camera swept over Dharavi in a frenetic pace,winding into its intestines as the police chased Jamal and Salim,each frame punctuated by AR Rahmans staccato beats throbbing in the background. Dharavis cinematic adventure does not seem to end there. The latest indie release Barah Aana goes into the slum,its narrow lanes and a community huddled together.
Raja Menon,37,who has written and directed the film,says it is not poverty pornography,In Slumdog,you have a fleeting image of Dharavi as a large slum,but I wanted to show it as a place of the working class,where peons,clerks,watchmen and more live together,their lives intertwining like they never do anywhere else.
Barah Aana is a comedy about three friends from Dharavi,a driver played by Naseeruddin Shah,a watchman by Vijay Raaz and a waiter by Arjun Mathur. Raazs character,boisterous and mischievous,finds himself in deep soup and stumbles into a crime. He goads his friends to join him and soon all three find their lives spinning out of control. Getting to work with Naseeruddin Shah and Vijay Raaz has been wonderful enough. The roles were written for them, says Menon.
The 97-minute movie,which will be released on March 20,has done the domestic festival circuit,travelling to Goa,Kerala and Pune,and has been invited for screening at the Museum of Modern Arts,New York,in June. Most indie films get nixed during the distribution stage,but the attention weve got already can only help us, says Menon.
The film is co-produced by the Italian Giulia Achilli,who stumbled into Menon at an event appropriately called Italy meets Bollywood two years ago,and was taken with the story. The language did not matter,this is a universal tale that audiences across the globe will relate to, says Achilli,probably hoping for an encore of Slumdog success.