As of today, the city of Bombay generates nearly 10 million tons of Waste (household, commercial, hotels and restaurants, markets, institutional, construction etc ). Close to a 100,000 Ragpickers (the name by which garbage collectors are popularly known in India), it is estimated, help the Bombay’s Municipal Corporation’s effort to manage solid, recyclable waste and control hazards of pollution, health and hygiene for its residents.
The highly independent and industrious lot of Ragpickers also ekes out a living by sorting out and selling a large part of the city’s increasing load of waste. Most of them are from below the poverty line and lower socio-economic strata and live a difficult life, earning between 50-150 rupees a day.
Remarkably, over 80% of them are women — mostly wives of alcoholic or deserting husbands or even widows — women who continue to raise their children, dreaming of a brighter future for them.
Even though they might sport an impoverished look, they, therefore, are very different from the beggars that many people mistake them for. At the worst, indeed, they are scavengers of a different kind. Like the scavengers, however, they help us maintain some ecological balance and environmental cleanliness, with a little profit for themselves.
What is their world like? What draws them to an unromantic workplace like the various dumping centers, big and small and garbage bins around the city? What is the gap between their dreams and their reality? What do they feel about the world which offers them only rubbish? How do they grapple with their problems that range from bringing home money for the next meal to running an errant household to pitching small dreams for their children?
The film, RAGPICKERS, scavengers of a different graveyard, attempts to explore this tenuous world of theirs and create a sensitive portrayal of a group of people who rarely move away from the fringe. And yet, how they live a brave life, seldom compromising on their inherent dignity!