Thursday, January 14, 2010

the slumdog children of mumbai

This is a programme that I think I am proudest to have worked on, in all these years. Simply because it was not only journalism at its best and most sensitive, but because the director Nick Read and the production company True Vision are committed to the ethics of working with children and helping them to improve their lives. And on a lesser note, because we shot in the monsoons in the most excruciatingly difficult circumstances.

It is not always pleasant to work in the slums, or on the streets. More than the physical hardships, you are always being quizzed about selling India's poverty. You have your own traumas about the difference between your own life and that of the people you are working with.

When you have lived for any length of time in Mumbai, you stop "seeing" the life on the street. There is so much of it that it can be overwhelming, and you ignore it to get on with your own life.

But while working on this programme, I felt that it is important to give a voice to the people who are usually invisible. I stopped feeling ashamed of my work, and saw that it could be an opportunity to help at least a few children.

The Channel 4 site has an article on street kids, my very limited experience with the children. Please read it here.

The Slumdog Children of Mumbai

Edited to add. The film received a tremendous response with hundreds of emails, comments and enquiries to help the children in the film and others like them. True Vision has built a site dedicated to these children with links to some of the NGOs working for the children, and also ways to help the children directly. Within 48 hours, the Trust Fund for the children has already collected over 8000 GBP.

The link to the site is here

The biggest challenge is not going to be money, but motivating the children esp. the boys to go to school or vocational training. Any suggestions are welcome.


Lekhni said...

I suppose there's no way I can watch it in the US? :( Online, Youtube?

dipali said...

It's a heartbreaking reality. I hope it will help at least some kids.

memsaab said...


This just makes me cry. You should be proud of what you are doing. I hope I can see this one day.

karrvakarela said...

Thanks for sharing this. Is there a way we can watch it in the US?

Amrita said...

i dont know if I could bear to watch this... and that makes me feel as though I ought to make the effort.

Btw, I saw The Malegaon ka Superman docu the other day - didn't you work on that as well? I loved it!

Banno said...

Lekhni, Karrvakarela, No, I don't know about the US. But I think Channel 4 does put its docus online after some time. If so, I'll let you know.

Dipali, still trying. But it's very hard.

Memsaab, DVD? When you come back to India.

Amrita, No, I didn't work on 'Malegaon ka Superman'. Lovely film, I wish I had. :)

merrytree said...

Hi, Banno. I really appreciate you for this program. I and my h2b are still watching it just now, but strongly feeling to help them already even on the half way through. Especially the girl called Deepa. Would you mind e-mailing us to talk about it, please? If you don't feel comfortable about it, then would you mind passing your e-mail address here for us? We have tried to look for your e-mail address but failed to find one. We believe you would like to help her and us.

yours regards
Mr & Mrs Kim

Banno said...

Mr. & Mrs. Kim, please visit the website made specially for these kids and kids like them by the company that made the film, True Vision.

The url is

There are direct ways you can help the children there. Individually as well as collectively.

Thanks for your interest.

Swati said...


I watched this documentary last evening and I thought it was very very well made. I have previously taught street children in Delhi and it is just heart wrenching to face the reality of the lives of these children.


Shefaly said...

Banno: My first reaction to the Indian Winter was echoing Neha's :-/ That is where I found from your comment that you had worked on one of the programmes. I write this as I watch Kevin McCloud: Slumming It (re-run). Thought of you and decided to check your blog. Thanks for sharing your experience. You are an archivist and a story-teller as well as a historian in this. Yours was a beautifully produced programme (even though I am always weepy at the sight of poverty being met with courage :-/ ).

Banno said...

Thanks, Swati and Shefaly, for watching with an open mind. I'm really glad we are receiving such heartfelt responses. Makes me feel we weren't deluding ourselves with our motives.

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