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To those of us who travel by the metro, Aya Nagar is the area next to Arjangarh near Gurgaon, a forest of brick houses and narrow lanes. To filmmaker Sidharth Srinivasan, this unauthorised colony is an interesting petri dish where the myriad streams that make up Delhi, even India, run, collide and merge into one another. A few years before his feature film Pairon Talle, which was released in 2011, Srinivasan's camera was focused on Aya Nagar, and the result is a docu-feature called An Outpost of Delhi. The hour-long film, made in collaboration with the Public Service Broadcasting Trust, was screened at the India Habitat Centre on Friday.
The story captures a day in the lives of three vastly different protagonists of Aya Nagar — architect Ashish Ganju, the area's Gujjar chief Basant Lohia, and one of the first residents in the colony, Benjamin Toppo.
Ganju was originally a resident of the plush Defence Colony in South Delhi, and moved to Aya Nagar after his daughter said, "Papa don't you want to build your own house?" Now, he has built his dream house in Aya Nagar.
Lohia, on the other hand, is a stickler for tradition. "Sab badal raha hai," he says angrily into the camera, listing out his peeves that include girls going to school, and noisy young people. As he talks, it becomes apparent that Lohia is afraid of ownership and power slipping away from his grasp.
Toppo, in her sixties, is among the area's original residents. "My late husband was instrumental in the urbanisation and development of the area," she says, "But, to this day, we still struggle for electricity and water." Her husband was a big celebrity in the locality, and this reminds viewers of small villages or towns where a prominent citizen is revered. A number of awards gleam on Toppo's shelves — symbols of her husband's work for the area's upliftment.