Mumbai’s fishing industry is hungry for ice. Plunge into the fray with those who feed it
Sassoon Docks is one of Mumbai’s largest and oldest fishing ports. A cacophonous and bustling centre of commerce, some 20 tons of fish are unloaded there daily. When heading out to sea and upon arrival, fish traders rely on the teams of ice makers and transporters at the docks to keep the hauls fresh. Working in teams, these ‘ice men’ – often natives of far-off Uttar Pradesh in northern India – store, shovel, crush and cart vast quantities of ice that fishermen use to preserve their catches during weeks away at sea, and on which merchants keep their goods fresh when displaying them for sale or readying them for transport. In Baraf (Hindi for ‘ice’), bursts of hot and cold seemingly emanate from the screen as the filmmakers Niyantha Shekar and Anirudh Ganapathy catalogue the skills, sweat, aches and breaks of the ice men’s work. With a kinetic editing style, the duo achieve a musical rhythm from the details of craft and community that comprise a microcosm of the larger economic structure of the Mumbai port.