Author-filmmaker Ruzbeh Bharucha's work on the demolition of India's largest slum is making news at human rights film fests It's a heart-wrenching tale of razed homes and 35,000 dislocated families-the demolition of Yamuna Pushta, one of the oldest and largest slums in India, located on the three-kilometer stretch along the Yamuna river in Delhi. Little wonder then that Ruzbeh N Bharucha's book and documentary Yamuna Gently Weeps has been winning acclaim.
It began when Bharucha was writing his first book. "I was interacting with Kiran Bedi while writing my first book, Shadows in Cages. She has been involved in a lot of community work in that area along with Delhi Police Foundation-Navjyoti. There were balwadis and health clinics in the area. But within two days we got the news that the area was going to be demolished," says Bharucha.
Soon after, Bharucha, along with a team of cameramen, went to the slum-dwellers' homes. Within minutes, around 1.5 lakh slum-dwellers were rendered homeless. Of these, 20 per cent were allotted plots on barren land in Bawana, an area far from the city and lacking basic civic amenities. "I was with them before the demolition began and when they were given that land. That day I was ashamed to be called an Indian," he says.
In his opinion, if the judiciary had been more responsible and questioned the rehabilitation, and if the media had covered the event properly, the disaster could have been averted. "If Kareena Kapoor or Amitabh Bachchan would have walked through Yamuna Pushta, the news would have been splashed everywhere," says Bharucha, who has held several editorial positions in prominent newspapers. "One of the things I've learnt is that the poor have a lot of self-respect. All they want is a rehabilitation plan if you want to demolish their houses," he says.
His documentary has gone to all prominent International human rights festivals and plans are under way to screen it at universities like Symbiosis, Fergusson College and the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). Up next is a documentary about a village on the outskirts of Delhi. With Bharucha at work, it's bound to make news.