Welcome Home follows three generations of homeless females as they attempt to survive on the streets of Mumbai with only the sky as their roof. The short documentary will be directed by Anuradha Singh (editor/associate producer of the critically acclaimed India’s Daughter).
From the moment one steps onto the streets of Mumbai, it is impossible to escape the increasing number of women and girls living on the city’s footpaths. The statistics are alarming. According to the official Census, the total homeless population in Mumbai stands at 57,500, of which, 23,000 are women and girls. 96 percent of the city’s homeless females have been on the streets for more than five years, and 58 percent for more than 20 years. Over 90 percent of homeless females are victims of domestic violence, which results in their running away from their homes and living on the streets. The streets are extremely unsafe as women face rape, murder, sexual exploitation, acid attacks, and gender-based violence. More often than not, these women have little knowledge about their rights and are easily exploited by transient men and the police.
At present, the State’s response to the needs of homeless women is grossly inadequate. The municipal government’s annual budget has a provision for constructing 18 night shelters in Mumbai, however only seven exist, out of which, only one shelter allows Mumbai’s 23,000 women and girls to stay for the night. At a time when crimes against women are increasing, the government has turned a blind eye, leaving Mumbai’s homeless women and girls vulnerable and living in constant fear. A state that fails to provide protection of livelihood, health, adequate living conditions, security, and freedom from violence, is failing in both its international and national legal commitments.
Bringing Welcome Home to fruition is a labour of love for me. I remember it was monsoon season and I was traveling back home from an emotionally taxing day of editing India’s Daughter. I saw a young woman sitting on a cement divider in the middle of the road. She was breastfeeding her child under the shelter of a plastic sheet. My eyes filled with tears and all I could think of was the despondent life the woman’s child had before her. It was at that moment that I realized my purpose in life, I wanted to give a voice to the invisible homeless and tell the world their stories. I hope Welcome Home will draw attention to the plight of one of our society’s most marginalized groups and serve as a stepping stone for the government to take urgent action in protecting homeless women and young girls.
With Welcome Home I want to tell it just like I see it, without glossing over the world the documentary will naturally create. Metaphorically, I will be shooting a majority of the film in black and white to show how colorless the lives of the homeless can be. Through Welcome Home I want to challenge audiences to re-think their definition of homelessness and to expand their views about what homeless women and young girls go through when they only have the sky as their roof.
About Anuradha Singh:
A graduate of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Anuradha Singh is best known for her work on the critically-acclaimed India’s Daughter and the multiple Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire. She has been conferred with several awards from various organizations including, NBC and UNICEF. Anuradha’s journey as a filmmaker has been one of both perseverance and inspiration. Hailing from Gaya, a small village in Bihar, Anuradha overcame many obstacles before becoming an internationally- acclaimed editor and documentary filmmaker. After completing two master degrees (Political Science and Mass Communication and Journalism), Anuradha enrolled in the four-year editing program at FTII. Upon graduating, she has worked on over 30 feature films, documentaries, and short films. Anuradha has collaborated with some of the finest filmmakers in the world (Craig Gillespie, Lasse Hallström, and Danny Boyle), and the topmost production houses (Walt Disney, DreamWorks, and BBC). Anuradha belongs to a family of freedom fighters. Her late grandfather, Kumar Pratap fought the freedom struggle movement and was a close confidant of Mahatma Gandhi. Her father, Ravindra Pratap is a renowned social worker with whom Anuradha avidly advocates issues pertaining to the empowerment and autonomy of women and the improvement of their political, social, and economic status. Anuradha hopes that her upcoming documentary, Welcome Home, will be a stepping stone for change; urging the government and citizens alike to take urgent action in protecting homeless women and young girls in India.
Anuradha’s select body of work includes: The Hundred Foot Journey, India’s Daughter, Million Dollar Arm, Girl Rising, West is West, and Slumdog Millionaire. Anuradha is currently working on producer David Womark’s (Life of Pi) human sex-trafficking drama, Love Sonia.