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When Indian films zeroed in on prostitution

The Supreme Court has recognised prostitution as a profession much to the delight of those sex workers who have faced ostracisation over the years. Filmmakers across the world have time and again delved into their lives to decipher the taboo associated with them. Here's a look at some of the memorable Indian films on the subject



These films have not only earned box-office success but critical acclaims as well
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These films have not only earned box-office success but critical acclaims as well
Graphics: Telegraph Online
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Rekha in Girish Karnad's 'Utsav'
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Rekha in Girish Karnad's 'Utsav'
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Directed by Girish Karnad, the film featured Rekha, Shashi Kapoor, Neena Gupta, Amjad Khan and others. The movie is an The film is an adaptation of Mṛcchakatika (The Little Clay Cart), a Sanskrit drama. 

Shyam Benegal’s film 'Mandi '
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Shyam Benegal’s film 'Mandi '
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Legendary filmmaker filmmaker Shyam Benegal’s 1983 film Mandi, based on a short story by Pakistani writer Ghulam Abbas, highlights the hypocrisies of a corrupt patriarchal society that looks down upon prostitutes in the name of morality. The same men who visit a brothel to fulfill their physical needs in the darkness of the night speak of relocating it in broad daylight.

Rituparna Sengupta in Srijit Mukerji's Bengali film 'Rajkahini'
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Rituparna Sengupta in Srijit Mukerji's Bengali film 'Rajkahini'
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Srijit Mukherji’s 2015 Bengali film Rajkahini revolves around a brothel which the authorities want to relocate. The film is set in 1948 in the backdrop of the India’s Independence from the British rule.

The film’s greatest strength is how it offers an insightful take on the lives of the prostitutes without ever attempting to judge them. Rajkahini was later remade in Hindi as Begum Jaan, starring the renowned Indian actress Vidya Balan.

Kareena Kapoor in Chameli
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Kareena Kapoor in Chameli
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Chameli directed by Anant Balani and Sudhir Mishra, is a popular Hindi films on sex workers. Chameli is a sex worker which is played by Kareena Kapoor Khan and her character is a street-smart prostitute.

The film at first plays to the stereotypes associated with the role of a prostitute in society but ultimately succeeds in transcending them.

Monali Thakur in the film 'Lakshmi'
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Monali Thakur in the film 'Lakshmi'
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The film is based on a true-story of the first convicted case of child prostitution in Andhra Pradesh. More than 1 million children, girls, and boys, have been forced into prostitution in India. Writer-director Nagesh Kukunoor’s Lakshmi tells the story of how these children are trained by their pimps and madams and customers to be always ready, always obedient, and always lubricated.


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