Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Contemporary South Asia

Film Screening: "Cities of Sleep" with Director, Shaunak Sen & Associate Director, Aman Mann

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute 

‘Cities of Sleep’ takes us into a heady world of insurgent sleeper’s communities as well as the infamous ‘sleep mafia’ in Delhi where just securing a safe sleeping spot often becomes a question of life and death for a large number of people.

The film trails the lives of two individuals, Shakeel and Ranjeet. Shakeel, a renegade homeless sleeper has for the last 7 years slept in a diverse range of improvised places like subways, under park benches, parking lots, abandoned cars and lately, at areas controlled by the sleep mafia. The film follows his attempts to secure a safe sleeping space just around the time the infamous winter rains of Delhi are due.

Ranjeet runs the ‘sleep-cinema’ community in Loha Pul in Delhi, a huge double-storey iron bridge straddling the banks of the river Yamuna. A thin strip of land under Loha Pul houses shanty cinemas where over 400 odd homeless come and sleep through the day for a nominal price. The flooding of the river Yamuna poses a threat to the people sleeping there every monsoon.

The film looks at not only the tremendous social and political pressure that sleep exerts on the homeless in the city but is also a philosophical exploration of sleep at large.

SHAUNAK SEN is a filmmaker, video artist and scholar based in Delhi. Cities of Sleep is his first feature length documentary, funded by the Films Division of India. He has edited various other documentary and experimental fiction/non-fiction films including Squad’s Fall Guys (2013), Old Town (2013) and T&Lily (2014).

AMAN MANN is a filmmaker based in New Delhi. After finishing his Bachelors and Masters degrees in English Literature from Kirori Mal college in 2010, Aman completed a stint in the corporate sector as a consultant at IMRB International before joining the team of Cities of Sleep in 2013, initially in a research capacity and then later as an associate director.