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CityLab
Design

A Mumbai Slum's Cultural Moment

With its second annual Biennale, Dharavi finds itself being taken seriously as an arts destination.
Dharavi residents gather for the opening performance at the Dharavi Biennale.
Dharavi residents gather for the opening performance at the Dharavi Biennale.The Megacity Initiative

Dharavi looms ever larger in the popular consciousness of Mumbai. Once a tiny fishing village on the edge of the city, it is now home to upwards of one million people seeking the economic opportunities promised by life in the heart of India’s financial capital.

More recently, Dharavi is also trying to shed its image, so often reinforced by depictions in media and films such as Slumdog Millionaire, as a downtrodden slum. The second edition of the ambitious Dharavi Biennale is catalyzing such efforts through art, design, and performance.