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AT MY DOORSTEP

70 min/India/2009

Synopsis

A closer look at those who come to the filmmaker’s door becomes a way of entering a parallel world of garbage collectors, domestic workers, delivery boys, watchmen —all those who labour long hours in difficult conditions to make middle and upper class lives in the city of Bombay more comfortable. These providers of services and goods often remain faceless and nameless. They are, like the people who enjoy their services, mainly migrants, but their presence here is more sharply defined by the lack of survival options back home. Nothing else explains why they should bear with such harsh living and The film looks at the crisscrossing of various lives in the filmmaker’s housing colony, gleaning from this microcosm a sense of how millions work, interact and struggle for a firmer foothold in an indifferent, often hostile megacity.

Direction & Editing: Nishtha Jain

Research & Script: Nishtha Jain and Smriti Nevatia

Film Consultant: Smriti Nevatia

Cinematography: Rakesh Haridas

Location sound: Indrajit Neogi

Sound design: Niraj Gera

The film was supported by

HIVOS, Netherlands

Alter-Ciné Foundation, Canada

 

Produced by Raintree films

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“Nishtha Jain, a film-maker already known for her remarkable film on the life of her domestic help, “Lakshmi and me”, that brought out the world of the women who literally hold up the homes of the middle class and the rich in Mumbai, has now made another film on the world of these virtually invisible people who hold up the city of Mumbai. “At my doorstep” is the story of the security guards, the men who iron clothes, the boys who deliver newspapers and groceries and the men who clear the garbage from Mumbai’s multi-storied and high-rise buildings.

 

Set against the background of Mumbai’s Film City, and the dreams that Bollywood weaves for so many who come to the city seeking work, Jain opens our eyes to the world that these men inhabit. Through the words of Dayanand, a poet and writer originally from Bokaro in Jharkhand, who works as a security guard, Jain portrays the philosophical mindset that helps these men to survive.”

- Kalpana Sharma, Hindu

“At My Doorstep is important because, by contributing to an existing body of documentary films on working class masculinities, Nishtha Jain argues for an understanding of the coping mechanisms adopted by men who have lost the economic basis of masculine identity. It is imperative to arrive at such an understanding of crises in masculinities if these reactions are to be steered away from misogyny and towards political actions aimed at a more egalitarian gender order.”

-Romit Chowdhury, India together

There were many moments in At My Doorstep that left my throat feeling dry, that shattered many of my illusions. Why is it that sometimes, despite our usual recreational screaming about equality and freedom and notions of justice, we don’t pay our domestic help as much as they ought to get? Why do we choose to ignore their troubles because it gets in the way of our routine? After discovering the intricacies of their lives, it’s hard to ignore how often their lives are robbed of dignity. It hits you hard when you hear Ramesh Ravi say, “They talk to us in an indiscipline manner, as if they’ve bought us for Rs 2000.”

 

-Yamini Vijayan, Deccan Herald

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