Madiwalas of Bangalore | B•LORE by BIC

Film by Rehaan Diaz

They used to wash the king’s linen. How are they faring now? ‘Madiwala’ in Kannada means washerman. The locality of Madiwala was home to a community of washermen and washerwomen and the area was named after them. Even today, dhobi ghats are dotted throughout Bangalore’s suburbia. They can be found in Malleshwaram, Rajajinagar, Banashankari, Madiwala, Ulsoor Lake and Ashok Nagar. What is the status of the madiwalas in Bangalore today? The man-hours put in to eke out a decent living is far from ideal. With the advent of technology and its intervention, some dhobi ghats in the city have been slowly modernised, while some are waiting for their turn. In recent times, their clients have included hotels, hospitals, and dormitories in surrounding areas. However, these establishments have now equipped themselves with in-house laundry facilities. How will the madiwalas keep up and sustain themselves going forward? How are they responding to the lack of development, apathy, and other challenges? The filmmaker highlights the occupational hazard of standing in pools of detergent and chemical-laced water for hours and the toll this takes on their bodies. The impact on the environment through water pollution is also highlighted in this short. The film mainly focuses on the Ashok Nagar dhobi ghat. Through the film we gain an insight into the operational aspects of dhobi ghats today as well as the difficulties faces by the madiwalas through an interview with a washerman.