‘New Mumbai’ by Tobias Revell, a British interaction designer, is an odd and incredible film of Revell’s journey to the Dharavi slums of mumbai in India to interview and document a strange phenomenon involving genetically modified mushrooms and how they’ve revitalized the poverty stricken area of the city.
The mushrooms started off in Amsterdam. They were stolen from a highly experimental biotech lab by an Indian gang who thought that they could re-engineer the fungi for use as narcotics. However the mushrooms didn’t have any magic highs and the spores ended up in the Dharavi slums where locals, using really basic equipment, grew the mushrooms and used them to harvest energy that was able to provide heat, lighting and power for the residents of the slums.
Dharavi rapidly evolved it’s own micro-economy based around the mushrooms and this incredible documentary tells the story of some of the characters involved from Mumbai and the rest of the world and how Dharavi came to be such a unique place.
Actually this story – the one I’ve just written about – is all a grand hoax. I bought it for a while but no longer. It is a compelling story; the documentary done well, the story plausible and Revell cleverly taps into a modern idea, a hope, the zeitgeist’s notions of a new partnership between the city and nature. In short it is a story you want to believe.
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