INDIA Bombay Falkland road

The historical prostitution street in 1970

J’ai découvert. Folkland road il y a bien longtemps. En 1970 exactement.  

J’étais ce qu’on appelait alors un routard, J’avais 18 ans à peine des rêves plein la tête. Je pratiquais la  photographie depuis plusieurs années. 

J’ ai parcouru l’Inde un peu comme un clochard dormant à droite à gauche en particulier dans les gares. Ah la gare de Calcutta!

J’ai gardé de Falkland road un souvenir ému et étonnant . C’était un endroit  assez surréaliste ou tout le monde semblait s’amuser au milieu de cette misère terrifiante. La rue est devenue ensuite  très célèbre en partie grâce aux images de Mary Ellen Mark. 

au fil des ans de nombreuses images se sont perdues dans les agences. A cette époque les magazines travaillaient avec des originaux

Discovering Falkland Road: My Backpacking Adventure in 1970

I embarked on a backpacking adventure across India in the summer of 1970,  As I traveled, I heard whispers of a notorious red light district in Mumbai called Falkland Road. I was intrigued by the tales of vice and danger, and decided to take a detour and see the place for myself.

As I arrived at Falkland Road, I was struck by the chaotic energy of the place. The narrow lanes were alive with a throng of people, from the sex workers and their clients to the hordes of tourists and locals who came to gawk. The air was thick with the scent of spices, trash, and sweat.

At first, I was disturbed by the poverty and exploitation I saw in every corner of Falkland Road. But as I walked deeper into the neighborhood, I began to see the resilience and humanity of the people who called this place home. I met sex workers who shared their stories with me, activists who fought for their rights, and families who had lived on Falkland Road for generations.

Over the course of my visit, I came to appreciate the complex and often contradictory nature of Falkland Road. I saw it as a place of pain and pleasure, survival and struggle, exploitation and empowerment. And despite the challenges and dangers, I knew that I would never forget the experience of discovering this infamous neighborhood in the heart of Mumbai.

Falkland Road: The Changing Face of Mumbai’s Red Light District

Mumbai, 1970 – Falkland Road, the notorious red light district of Mumbai, is witnessing a transformation. Once a hub of brothels and sex workers, the road is now home to a thriving street culture, diverse communities, and emerging businesses.

The road, which stretches for nearly a kilometer, has long been a symbol of Mumbai’s underbelly. For decades, it was a magnet for sex workers from across India, who plied their trade in the dimly-lit alleys and cramped rooms. The district was notorious for its bleak living conditions, rampant exploitation, and police corruption.

But in recent years, as Mumbai has grown and modernized, the face of Falkland Road has changed. Many of the brothels have been shut down or converted into other businesses. New shops, restaurants, and cafes are opening up, attracting residents and visitors alike. The street is now a hub of commerce and creativity.

At the same time, the communities that call Falkland Road home are also evolving. The sex workers who remain are fighting for their rights and organizing themselves in collectives. Members of the LGBTQ community have established themselves in the area, creating safe spaces and visibility. And the local residents, who often face discrimination and stigma, are finding new ways to assert their dignity and identity.

Despite the changes, however, Falkland Road remains a deeply polarized and controversial space. Some see it as a beacon of empowerment and resilience, a place where marginalized communities can thrive and find acceptance. Others view it as a site of exploitation and degradation, where vulnerable people are trapped in a cycle of poverty and abuse.

As Mumbai continues to urbanize and grow, the future of Falkland Road is uncertain. But one thing is certain: the road will continue to challenge our assumptions about gender, sexuality, and class, and force us to confront the complex realities of urban life.

INDIA images on my images database here

More INDIA pages are coming

Michel Setboun

I am open to any interesting project, book, exhibitions, assignments, anywhere on this planet and in the outer space. For professionals, editors, magazines, publishers etc. the IMAGE WEBSITE in the main menu will take you to my pictures database where you can search (with keywords) and download images. You can get more information on me on my BIOGRAPHY PAGE.