With its population topping one billion, India is now home to one third of the world’s poor. Set in Mumbai, this San Jose Mercury News video is a window into India’s overwhelming sea of poverty. Haunting background music and minimal natural sound, combined with striking still and time lapse photographs, create an ethereal tone poem on poverty.
More than 6 million of those desperately poor Indians live in Mumbai, representing about half the residents of the nation’s financial hub. They dwell in gigantic slums and roadside shanties that press up against the shimmering high-rises that serve as the most conspicuous symbols of India’s new affluence.
The video avoids interviews, narration or any individual character development, and is replaced instead by superimposed text data from reports by the World Bank, UNESCO and SPARC, an Indian non-profit.
We learn that, despite tremendous economic growth for India over the last decade, millions are still left behind in poverty. The statistics are staggering: 35,000 “pavement dwellers” live in Mumbai; the city’s largest slum houses 600,000 people; 450 million Indians live on less than $1.25 a day, and “ragpickers,” who sift through garbage at the dump, live on less than $1 a day.
This piece is far from a traditional story seen on most daily newspaper websites, but photographer Dai Sugano’s artistic use of unconventional visuals and audio result in a powerful and memorable production.
Video, Editing and Production: Dai Sugano
Flash Production: David M. Barreda
Visual Editing: Dai Sugano, Geri Migielicz and Jami C. Smith