Cities of Sleep (Shaunak Sen, India, 74mins)

Cities of Sleep is set in a world where just being able to secure a good night’s sleep often becomes a matter of life and death. Trailing the lives of two individuals, we enter a heady world of night-shelters, improvised sleeping spots and the infamous ‘sleep mafia’ of Delhi to look at the enormous influence the otherwise banal activity of sleeping is able to exert on a large number of people.

The film follows two individuals, Shakeel and Ranjeet. Shakeel, a beggar by profession is something of a renegade sleeper who for the last 7 years has slept in a diverse cross-range of improvised sleeping places in Delhi: under flyovers, subways, deserted pipelines, vacant car garages, empty animal cages in zoos and so on. 

Ranjeet lives in Loha Pul in Delhi, a 200 year old double storey iron bridge in Delhi straddling the banks of the river Yamuna. Around 9 years ago, Ranjeet opened up a shanty cinema in a thin strip of the land under the bridge. These cinemas are meant to primarily provide comfortable resting/sleeping spaces for the 140-150 people who usually inhabit the area.  We follow this community's attempts to survive while also facing the annual threat of the river flooding during the monsoon season.


About the Director

SHAUNAK SEN is a filmmaker, video artist and scholar based in Delhi. Cities of Sleep is his first feature length documentary. He has edited films including ‘Squad’s Fall Guys’ (2013), ‘Old Town’ (2013) and ‘T&Lily’ (2014).

Shaunak is also the recipient of the Digital and Social Media Fellowship from Sarai in 2014. A mass communication graduate of Jamia Milia, New Delhi he is currently enrolled as a PhD student at the School of Arts and Aesthetics at the Jawahar Lal Nehru University in Delhi. His academic writing has been published in various journals including Bioscope and Widescreen. He has also worked as a journalist for Tehelka and as a freelance investigative journalist for other media portals.



  • Taiwan International Documentary Festival – Merit Prize (Asian Vision competition)
  • Taiwan International Documentary Festival – Next Generation Award
  • New York Indian Film Festival – Best Documentary
  • Seattle South Asian Film Festival – Best Documentary

This film screening will be preceded by the screening of The Curious Case of Mr. Bhim Thapa