Nashebaaz (English Meaning: Drug Abuser ) a documentary film by Dheeraj Sharma, which explores the poignant, painful and in-depth life of the roadside drug abusers of Delhi, who are also considered as dangerous, untouchables of untouchables and menace to the society.

Not only Delhi is one of the cities with the highest number of billionaires in this world, it is also a continuously progressing and improving the economy. Even with all the growth and the development, the fact that this city has a huge number of homeless people living on the streets, can’t be overlooked.

These poor people, who are unable to find work and shelter, are eventually introduced to the world of the drugs as a means of escapism. And this is responsible for the serious problem of extreme drug addiction among this homeless population. People, too poor to even buy food, get entrapped in this addiction and start using super cheap forms of drugs like smack, solvents, and pharmaceutical drugs. Some drugs are as cheap as 5INR  (0.075USD). As few of these drugs are the most addictive ones in this world, they make these road-side drug abusers reach the stage of being burnt out, where abusing the drug becomes their sole motive of existence.

This category of the population also has a significant number of children who, like adults, are also addicted to the solvents like toluene which can mainly be found in the correctional fluid, paint thinner, petrol etc. Growing up, they are introduced to smack, which is a derivative form of Heroin, available for just 40INR (0.78 USD) per package. And finally. they reach the stage where they start using the pharmaceutical drugs. A drug which is supposed to be taken orally, but they generally mix it with the other elements. Thus, it forms a cocktail of various drugs which is then injected into the body using the common syringes. The usage of the common syringes has given most of them the deadly disease AIDS. All this has lead to a vicious cycle of addiction, abscess, gangrene, all-over infection, amputation and ultimately death.

Official Trailer of Nashebaaz- The Dying People of Delhi

Challenges Faced

The biggest challenge of making this documentary, Nashebaaz – The Dying People of Delhi, was the fact that these drug abusers were homeless, which made really tough for us to be in touch with the same person the very next day. As they didn’t stay at any fixed location and as we didn’t want to lose contact with them, we spent most of our nights following them wherever they went. Many nights we didn’t sleep at all, and many nights we slept for just a few hours inside our car parked on the roadside. We wanted to experience their lives, so we spent most of our time with them. We talked, we shared a joke or two and had food at Bangla Saheb Gurudwara with them.

This movie took 5years to complete because of the unapproachable nature of these drug abusers. Keeping in consideration the delicate issue explored in this project, it also demanded a lot of research and a considerable amount of time was given to that. Also, getting interview slots with many people related to this issue (even remotely) was not a very easy task and we waited for many days just to make those a part of our movie. Even though it took many years in the making, we are pleased that we are finally able to present a full picture to everyone about this issue.

Nashebaaz - Documentary Film Dheeraj

What inspired us to make ‘Nashebaaz’?

The story of “Nashebaaz- The Dying People of Delhi” started the day when Dheeraj Sharma, director of the film, became deluged with the questions related to the importance of one life over another. Dheeraj Sharma, a paramedic, who spends most of his work time catering to the patients with life-threatening injuries and illnesses in the ICU, sees people die every day. One such day when he witnessed another death of a severely ill patient, he started thinking about the numerous unknown people dying in the streets.

The very same day, walking through the streets of Connaught Place, New Delhi, he encountered many people on his way struggling to see one more sunrise of their lonely and addicted lives. He observed every minute detail he can from how many of those had deep injuries (both physical and mental) to how some of them were bleeding. A lot of people there noticed these unfortunate ones, but entirely ignored their existence and walked away, like most of us will do. Dheeraj despite his best efforts to return to his normal life, was not able to shake off that scene and thus decided to make people aware of it.

Neeraj Agnihotri, cinematographer and video editor, and Dhirendre Khandelwal, researcher and assistant director, then joined him in his quest. Those three then started this project of the unknown and therefore making the unknown known to everyone.

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