Monday 6 May 2013

Bandra Scenes Photographed by a Dharavi Kid

Yesterday, we went along to an exhibition by Bombay Underground - showcasing art and photography produced by the children of Dharavi ("Asia's biggest slum").  This is being held at the False Ceiling Gallery in Pali Naka very close by to where we live.  Another initiative of Reality Gives, the event aims to dispel the negative attitudes many people have towards Dharavi by showing those outside, an intimate, first person perspective of life inside the slum.  

There are about 50 children in the Bombay Underground art and photography club, who are given tuition by a professional photographer and volunteers once a week (or every day during the summer holidays).  The exhibition is the culmination of the best work they have achieved - which can also be bought for only 1,000 Rs a piece.  

Yesterday, the kids themselves were brought to the the False Ceiling Gallery in Bandra to see their work being displayed. They must have been so proud to see their art hung up in such a professional environment! Afterwards, a few of us had the privilege of taking small groups of the children around our neighbourhood, so that they could use what they have learnt to take photographs.   Mr Jules and I went with a member of Reality Gives staff (we needed a 'responsible adult'!), two girls aged 9 and an older boy to whom I lent our Canon Powershot camera (not quite a DSLR but a little more complex than his usual point-and-shoot).

We went off down a side street into Pali Village and I let the boy snap away, guiding him on some good shots to take and how to frame them (the most I could do as a mere amateur).  I also encouraged him to take photos of some of the characters around the neighbourhood - ensuring that he asked their permission politely first but not to be shy to ask.  After all, I have become somewhat of an expert at this myself!  The other two little girls followed suit although they were rather more raucous and trying to outdo/copy each other on the camera they were sharing. Very amusing!

It was really a lovely experience for Mr Jules and I to take these children around an area they had never been to before and to see their perspective on all that was new and colourful.  It even made me open my eyes to the Pali neighbourhood and notice things I'd never noticed before. When we came back, I had a look through the boys pictures and I was amazed by what I saw - this kid really has a natural talent which I hope will develop into a career for him one day.  

Here is a selection of his photos (I have cropped and enhanced only one or two of them):

Pali bungalow dweller - through the bars of her door.

I pointed out this photo opportunity to the boy and then left him to it - I love the result!

I tried to explain to the (Hindu) children who Jesus was...I gave up in the end!

Shot of a milk delivery - he asked permission to come close in.

Bemused to say the least!

Close up of an advertising hoarding outside an opticians.

Local beggar - he didn't have to pay her for this shot thankfully!

The lighting is perfect at 5pm in the afternoon

I asked this guy if it was OK for the boy to take his photo - but I don't think he was too impressed!

The two little girls were of course attracted to this jewellery stall on Pali market.  Our boy took this great close up of these bracelets - love the shadows.

The boy took a photo of one of the girls concentrating on her next shot (more bemused onlookers in the background)

One of my favourite shots - I slightly cropped it but I was amazed that he observed the lady and framed the shot from across the road.

I asked the boy to appreciate the colours of this old door.  Lovely pic!

Our talented group!
The Dharavi Art Room Exhibition is on until 11th May at the False Ceiling Gallery, Pali Naka (a few doors up from Pali Village Cafe.  You can buy prints of photos for 1,000 Rs and art for 300 Rs (Images below)



Perhaps you have recently upgraded from your point-and-shoot or you took up the hobby and didn't continue it.  If so, please contact me on and I will arrange to collect any disused cameras from you.  These talented and enthusiastic children are currently sharing one camera between four or five and I would love to help them out by finding more for the group.  This message goes out to everyone in the UK or Mumbai!!


  1. Your young photographer did an artistic job and that is great you participated.

  2. These photos are fabulous. My favourite is the door - love it. Great work. Liz xx

    1. Thanks Liz & Terra. My favourite is the door too. I thought of cropping it so that you could see the girl better but the scale of the door and her so small makes it more interesting. And she looks so wistful with one shoe on, one shoe off!

  3. Great photos and a wonderful opportunity for these youngsters. I have no spare camera at the moment but will certainly contact you if and when I upgrade my current one.



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