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The squatter's life


KATHMANDU: The picture of that lane looked quite familiar. Children were playing in the boulevard of some loosely built houses while the adults were engaged in their daily errands. In the ebbing night of that day, life was going on at the Thapathali squatter community.

But one day, a sky of darkness fell upon their shelter.

Sharing the account of a mother-daughter story — Meena and Nirjala Basnet from the Thapathali squatter community, photographer Deepak Tolange has brought out an in-depth story of those communities where squatters and non-squatters reside.

Titled Shelter, Tolange’s documentary film was screened on February 1 at Sarwanam Theatre, Kalikasthan. Along with the touching story of the two-member Basnet family, who are non-squatters according to the government criteria but very poor, the life before the destruction of the Thapathali squatter community on May 8, 2012 and after, has been presented sincerely.

“I was doing a photo story on squatters when I came face-to-face with their reality,” says director and cinematographer Tolange who wanted “to understand the right picture about squatter issues”.

Thus, Shelter was made to reflect on the issues of poor people living in squatters to other people. And it has been told with video and photographs where people from different walks of life have expressed their views.

From the hand-to-mouth existence to the protest by the squatters for their shelter to the vulnerable scenario after the eviction of the squatters in the slums has been covered in 39.15 minutes film. Importantly, the agony, pain and anxiety of the poor people have been captured in the film on losing their shelter. Meanwhile, it raises questions about what the government is working on for them and mainly ‘Are they Nepali’ answering education and job employment as one of the solutions.

Tolange also felt that “the story telling would be better if told through visuals”. The film has been shot in six to seven squatter dwellings across the Valley.

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