DocuBay, VICE Studio shed light on new investigative documentary ‘Water Mafia’

Mumbai, Jan 12 – The upcoming documentary ‘Water Mafia’ sheds light on the illegal trade of water across various Indian cities. It’s an expose on the of black market for water. The documentary released on DocuBay, an International documentary streaming service by IN10 Media Network, on January 12.

Recently, in an interview with DocuBay’s COO, Girish Dwibhashyam, and Anil Chaudhary, Director, VICE India, underscored the deliberate crisis created as they recognised the severity of the issue, both companies collaborated to bring the story through the documentary film.

Below are excerpts from the conversation:

What inspired the creation of this documentary?

Girish Dwibhashyam: Water is a fundamental human need, and during our research we discovered the presence of the vast black market for water in India—a substantial but often overlooked problem. Official government data confirmed their existence. The artificial scarcity created in many areas, facilitated by illegal tanker operators, prompted us to choose exploring this as one of the topics for our original slate. VICE Studios agreed to investigate, leading to the documentary’s creation.

How did the team research the water mafia and its operations?

Anil Chaudhary: The research team consisted of experienced investigative journalists, utilising primary and secondary resources (including contacts within the water department, mafia affiliates, activists, etc.), delved into the mafia’s methods, structure, and scale. The team visited heavily affected housing settlements, observing the mafia’s varied workings and its impact on victims.

What were the major challenges faced during production?

Girish Dwibhashyam: Challenge with an investigative documentary like this was that, we didn’t know to what extent, access to genuine mafia members willing to confess on camera about their operations would be possible. Conducting on-ground investigations posed significant challenges. However, the team eventually succeeded in overcoming these hurdles.

Anil Chaudhary: The water mafia, though disorganised, consists of highly dangerous elements. Media coverage is seen as a threat due to the operation’s massive scale. Ensuring the safety of our subjects and crew was a constant concern. Some subjects feared reprisals, causing production challenges.

Did any surprising discoveries reshape the documentary’s narrative?

Anil Chaudhary: Although the core story remained consistent, four revelations were striking: The staggering scale of the operation (e.g., an annual INR 10,000 crores in Mumbai alone); collaboration between bureaucrats and politicians to sustain the operation; the daily struggles of millions in cities for water access, perpetuating poverty cycles; potential global water conflicts due to this operation combined with climate change-related crises.

What lessons do you hope viewers will take from this documentary?

Girish Dwibhashyam: The documentary features real mafia operators on camera for the first time. It’s crafted to engage audiences with its thrilling content while maintaining authenticity. Many people take water availability for granted and we aim to raise awareness about how Water Mafias operate, the economics of their industry and how to create artificial scarcity which impact survival for a large section of society.

Anil Chaudhary: We aspire for audiences to recognise how vested interests capture precious resources like water, often at the expense of those who rightfully own it. We want to portray the suffering of millions in cities due to water scarcity and its dire repercussions. Moreover, we aim to alert audiences that while they may not feel the impact now, the looming climate crisis might soon make us all victims of the water mafia.


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