The name Kamathipura conjures up disturbing images of prostitutes, police and pimps, crowded alleyways and dilapidated buildings. Though located in the centre of the Island city of Mumbai, Kamathipura is treated as a dangerous neighbourhood that exists on the margins of morality - a pariah, a deviant, a social outcast. As a result, the entire neighbourhood has suffered years of stigmatization, abject physical neglect, public scorn and curiosity, leaving its inhabitants trapped in grievously unstable old buildings. The exhibit seeks to highlight the centrality of Kamathipura to the city and counter the perception of its exceptional status as a red light area.

In recent times, Kamathipura’s residents, shopkeepers and rentiers have been vocally and actively campaigning for the erasure of the red light area label and closure of commercial sex work. The state and the real estate developers, however, have been eyeing the prime location for large-scale real estate redevelopment projects.


Residents of Kamathipura have been left swinging uncertainly between dreams of a better life and dejection as the redevelopment plans remain mere proposals on paper. Yet, rumors of redevelopment have led to the silent and violent displacement of some of the most vulnerable social groups in the neighborhood. Precarious livelihoods have been disrupted. The neighborhood has become increasingly fragmented, divided and contested.

How are these vulnerable social groups within Kamathipura coping? How do they view these efforts of reimagining Kamathipura, which seem to exclude them?




Nala Sopara