Thursday, November 12, 2015

'Cast in India' (2014): Rugged Glamour in a Foundry

In a dirt-floored factory in Howrah, India, many of New York City's cast-iron manhole covers are produced. Having just moved to NYC to pursue her Ph.D. at NYU, anthropologist Natasha Raheja became intrigued by these covers after having spotted one that was stamped with "Made in India".

Her curiosity led her to visit a foundry in Howrah, which is documented in the documentary "Cast in India". Having watched the trailer, the horrific working conditions make me question many of the beautiful and crafted items from India me and my wife have bought over the years.

As part of Raheja's research, prior to going to Howrah, she visited a bronze-sculpture foundry and a metal lamp fabricator in New York. What she learned was that while these sites and their employees shared many skills and processes with the foundries of Howrah, the respect and value derived from the products they created is vastly different.

"A cast-iron manhole cover from India," Raheja says, "is not imbued with the same sentimentality and rugged glamour as an iron hatchet cast in Greenpoint, Brooklyn."

Watch trailer:

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