Strugglers Hunt For The Perfect Home In Aamchi Mumbai
If you lose out on being ‘visible’, consider yourself lost in the crowd. That’s Mumbai for you. Bollywood has been pull-factor for many teenagers aspiring to become a part of the industry which has led to migration in the city. With property prices being high, these ‘strugglers’, as they are called, often have to settle for homes in the peripheries. Again, there are people who want to stay close to the audition centres so that they do not lose out on multiple opportunities. But, if you want to stay close, you have to compromise on your budget and will have to shell out anywhere between Rs 15,000 to Rs 70,000 per month. Even then, there is always a distinct difference between the ‘star’ and the ‘struggler’ pin codes. Undoubtedly, a Bandra or a Worli is identified with the rich and the famous, or should we say 'star' neighbourhoods.
On the other hand, with a lot of gyms, salons and proximity to film studios and audition centres, Andheri is a popular locality among strugglers and even among people working in the west of Andheri. However, rental values in this neighbourhood could be a problem for many. A cursory glance of Makaan.com will tell you that prospective tenants may have to spend anywhere between Rs 9,000 for a semi-furnished 1RK (room, kitchen) apartment and this value could go upto Rs 5 lakh for a furnished 5BHK apartment in a popular project. Therefore, opting for a rental accommodation here means that you will have to have enough money in your pockets or else there will a constant pressure on your pockets, especially if your income is not in sync with your outgo.
Ketaki Bisht, 26, is a model by profession. She has had the good luck to have featured in a few local advertisements and she is happy with what she gets for a pay. However, she says that the struggle seems never-ending. “Unlike a salaried person, most of us have to be daily bothered about the next day, or the next episode or even the short-term future. It is tricky and when you get to see the pool of talent, it gets worse. Rents, too, are so high that it becomes difficult to sustain. Two weeks without work doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay rents either. So, affordable homes are in demand all the time.”
Other areas that are equally popular as Andheri are Lokhandwala, Kanjur Marg East and Versova. Here again, prices are as high as Rs 90,000 per month. In Lokhandwala, even a furnished 1BHK unit can cost you Rs 70,000 monthly.
Those who do not have a permanent settlement in Mumbai or are new to the city do not hesitate to go in for shared accommodations, this helps them split the house rent. Unless the person settles into the profession and work keeps coming, shared homes are the usual way out.
Industry insiders tell us that generally people with no support in the city do not hesitate to opt for the peripheries during the initial lean period when there is not much work but a lot of research. Localities in Navi Mumbai and Thane such as Panvel, Karjat, Kalyan, Badlapur, Neral, Nallasopara, Vasai, Virar, Murbad, Dombivili are some common picks. Owing to high costs of shootings anywhere around the prime land has also led to several serial sets to consider cheaper alternatives. When ‘Bambai’ essentially needs to be recreated, most productions also decide to recreate the magic of quintessential Mumbai, miles away from the centre. This has raised hopes.
With the volume of work happening in the film and theatre industry, sets would necessarily need to branch out and hence, peripheral locations would benefit as they offer space at lower costs.Moreover these areas are now well-connected and also, have improving infrastructure. Also, the numerous permissions that need to be taken from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Mumbai Police, the union of actors and action artistes, local fire brigade, political parties in the area, corporators and sometimes even the collectors either delay the shoots or end up inflating the costs further.
An added problem is the issue of not being able to get a house on rent even when you are ready to pay for it. Not long back, a United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research conducted a survey that came up with shocking results. It confirms that Muslim applicants find it more difficult to find a home in the national capital region (NCR). Why only Delhi and its vicinity, Mumbai, too, has had its own set of prejudices against struggling actors and people of certain communities. Shakir Shandiwan, consultant at Bandra Space confirms this, too, while talking about homes on rent in Carter Road. “There are instances of racism and it is high time that there are rules set by the government to check such issues.”
Buying an apartment in Mumbai is not easy anymore. To add to it, rental homes are also becoming an issue. The city has donned the role of an entertainment hub and the difference between struggler and star locations is here to stay.