Slumdog Children of Mumbai

The Slumdog Children of Mumbai follows four young children who are all struggling to survive on the streets in the capital of India, Mumbai. With a population of over 18 million people, Mumbai is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, it is difficult to imagine how life might be for a child to fend for themselves here but yet Deepa, Salaam, and twins Hussan & Hussein are doing just that.

Deepa is 7 years old and sells flowers at the Bandra West traffic lights to passersby in order to make a minimal amount of money. In the early morning, she heads to the flower market to collect stock for the day ahead, she quite often will find herself working late into the evening. In 2008, Deepa’s father died in relation to an alcohol-related disease and her mother has all but abandoned her children since then. As such she lives with her three brothers and grandmother in the Khardanda slum. However, this shelter comes at a cost as she is forced to work in order to help feed her younger siblings. All she wants to do is return to school so that she can better herself.

Salaam is 11 years old and originates from a small village located in one of India’s poorest states, Uttar Pradesh. He is a runaway and like so many others is attempting to escape the harsh reality of domestic abuse. His stepmother used to beat him for not working hard enough. In 2009 he arrived at Victoria Station but has yet to make it more than a hundred metres from the station’s entrance. Shortly after starting to hang around with a group of older children, he began to pickpocket and beg in order to survive. This group of individuals introduced him to a form of solvent abuse known as ‘whitener’, a means of coping with the hunger he experiences on a daily basis.

Hussan & Hussein are 11-year-old twins who live in the Pipeline slum, a collection of makeshift squats that balance dangerously on a 2-meter wide pipe, this area is home to over 350 families. Here you will find a stagnant canal which the twins use to wash and play in. They also resort to diving into this canal in order to collect anything they might deem to be valuable, on a good day they may make 25p each. Sadly their father is an alcoholic and their brother is addicted to drugs.

This documentary was filmed over the course of three months during the monsoon season. It is a raw, unfiltered glimpse into the harsh reality these children find themselves in. With little to no prospects, how do these children manage to survive, let alone lead any sort of childhood?

Directed by: Nick Read

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