• Studio 2000, a photography and casting studio. The back gate where actors/ models peep in to see if there is something happening | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Waiting room/ casting room | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • A model at an audition at Studio 2000 | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • A director at his desk | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • The AKFPL (Anurag Kashyap Films Pvt. Ltd.) office at lunch time | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Casting for a television advertisement with well known faces, and others, practising their lines before the audition | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • The AKFPL office | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Actor Anil Kumar Yadav | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • A casting for a well known brand at Dancing Elephant, a photography and casting studio | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Outside Dancing Elephant, which has a lot of auditions | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • An actor/ model outside a casting, which he had heard of, but it was a casting only for females | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Discarded reflector boards which were used while shooting | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Balbir Singh Sandhu in front of the poster of a movie which he is producing and directing. The movie is still incomplete | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Balbir Singh Sandhu's 'office wall' | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Mr Hariharan, who is an old resident of Aram Nagar and is very upset about the MHADA's plan to redevelop the place | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • The MHADA redevelopment project sign-boards which are all over Aram Nagar, a nagging reminder for its residents | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Actor Rajesh Sonune | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • An entrance into Aram Nagar. Potholes, puddles and rickshaws | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Another popular casting office, called Tefla's, which faces the children's playground | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
Prev
  • Studio 2000, a photography and casting studio. The back gate where actors/ models peep in to see if there is something happening | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Waiting room/ casting room | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • A model at an audition at Studio 2000 | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • A director at his desk | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • The AKFPL (Anurag Kashyap Films Pvt. Ltd.) office at lunch time | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Casting for a television advertisement with well known faces, and others, practising their lines before the audition | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • The AKFPL office | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Actor Anil Kumar Yadav | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • A casting for a well known brand at Dancing Elephant, a photography and casting studio | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Outside Dancing Elephant, which has a lot of auditions | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • An actor/ model outside a casting, which he had heard of, but it was a casting only for females | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Discarded reflector boards which were used while shooting | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Balbir Singh Sandhu in front of the poster of a movie which he is producing and directing. The movie is still incomplete | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Balbir Singh Sandhu's 'office wall' | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Mr Hariharan, who is an old resident of Aram Nagar and is very upset about the MHADA's plan to redevelop the place | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • The MHADA redevelopment project sign-boards which are all over Aram Nagar, a nagging reminder for its residents | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Actor Rajesh Sonune | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • An entrance into Aram Nagar. Potholes, puddles and rickshaws | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
  • Another popular casting office, called Tefla's, which faces the children's playground | Sheetal Mallar for The Big Indian Picture
Next

Sheetal Mallar went into Aram Nagar with TBIP and came away with these impressions

Photographer’s note:

“Aram Nagar really felt as the name describes it to be. It’s relaxed and most residents there live at their own pace. Having said that the production houses and casting studios with actors and models going in and out all day make it quite the opposite of what the name suggests. A lot of these aspiring actors make rounds of the places everyday, regardless of whether or not auditions are actually happening. They come around in the hope that they might get noticed by one of these studios and their dream of being in a Bollywood film, or on television, would come true. Their optimism is inspiring. The dilapidated MHADA board is a constant reminder to the residents that their homes can be taken away from them. The large potholes and puddles do not bother anyone. They’ve become a part of Aram Nagar and its vibe. The casual settings of production houses of popular films, with young assistant directors hanging out and having chai with the guard, just fits into the ambience of the place. But despite it’s laid back pace, Aram Nagar is a reminder of the huge impact cinema has on our lives in the city.

“To shoot this essay I made several trips to Aram Nagar and walked around the area meeting models and actors who came for auditions, and chatting with them. Some of them shared their frustrations and insecurities about surviving in the city, while still trying to hold on to their dreams. Their stories were intriguing, and touching. I met some of the older residents who told me stories of themselves as well as other residents and production houses. Stories about what the area meant to them. There were endless stories about MHADA and the proposed redevelopment of the area, whereby the homes of those who stay here will be demolished, and what some residents have done to fight this.

“Mostly, I shot instinctively, without really planning on who or what I would shoot before hand. I was discovering the place at the same time as shooting this essay.”

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Township Of The Rest— A photo-portrait of Aram Nagar

Photo Essay
September 2012
By Sheetal Mallar

Sheetal Mallar has been one of the country's leading models, having worked with design-houses like Armani, Fendi, Rohit Bal, Sabyasachi and Manish Arora, and brands like L'oreal, Maybelline, Damas and Grasim. As a photographer she has been working on a project called 'Alone Together' which is about urban youth in big cities. She is also interested in documenting urban subcultures. Her photographs have been published in publications like Motherland magazine, Vogue, GQ, and Conde Nast Traveller India.