MEHNNAT KI ATANNI ( photo essay)
BY NICOLE FERNANDES, TYBMM , SOPHIA COLLEGE
Mehnnat ki Atanni ( the money earned after continuous hard work and dedication , which means ‘a struggle to earn 50 paisa each day’ is a descriptive photo essay of such a struggle in Mumbai.
Mumbai is a city which gives opportunities to each and every person to earn his or her living, a city which does not define any kind of occupation as a low strata job, but instead, takes it up skilfully and willingly. The will power of different migrants of taking up small occupations helps them to earn and collect each and every penny day by day and settle better in future.
This struggle many a times brings out a mindset among many people that people who adopt such occupations are lower than the ones who work in the ‘structural offices’. Very often we ourselves treat a roadside labourer as if he or she is not performing any kind of important job but instead, we should appreciate their hard work and dedication that they put in. But at the same time, people know the fact that without these, the city may just come to a stand. Because these occupations themselves provide help in the form of labour to different classes of people in the city of Mumbai. This is the professional gap that does exist in this city which is ignored and not discussed so often.
The concept of ‘Mehnnat ki Atanni’(money earned after continuous hard work and dedication ), came up when I was observing different people working on the streets of Mumbai on my way to college. There were different experiences when I started shooting. Many a times, even faced rejections which included questions like, “Why was so and so person during his labour hours being shot?” While shooting, many even asked what was the concept behind the photo? Many even had the fear that this photo would be handed over to the BMC. But when they were explained the concept was related to their day to day struggle , they were proud of being a part of this project.
One of my observation and questioning made the owner of Bharat Petroleum angry. I had seen a boy whose age was below 14 years working as a petrol supplier and so just questioned him “ Isn’t this child labour?” and he arrogantly said “ well, that’s his choice and I don’t care what will happen further, If you want you can go and complain.” Through this observation, I guess there will be may such different corners in the city where child labour still exist.
Many photos were shot without any prior permission, which led to blurring of many photos in the process of their continuous working. These photos were shot using a phone camera in places like Charni road, Grant road, Marine lines, Andheri, Vasai and Churchgate
Through these photos, there’s a lesson that I learnt from Mumbai-‘Where there is work, it’s each one’s will power that makes it an occupation as well as a way to earn each and every penny.’
BY NICOLE FERNANDES
given below are the photos shot by me on the streets of mumbai: