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World Theatre Day

Play upholds dignity of sex workers

Women’s group comes together to spread message

Jhinuk Mazumdar | Published 08.03.22, 06:59 AM
The women at a rehearsal for the play

The women at a rehearsal for the play

Telegraph picture

Women of various ages, from 7 to 75 years, have come together to enact a play to uphold the rights and dignity of a section of “deprived women”, sex workers.

The all-women play is an initiative of a Malayalee organisation that was started 80 years ago by women who hailed from Kerala and had made Kolkata their home.


The motley group of women who have come together for the play comprises homemakers, students, corporate managers, most of whom have no experience of theatre. The group takes out two hours every day for rehearsals to put up something that will stand up for women.

Swarnamaram (The Golden Tree), by Keraleeya Mahila Samaj, Kolkata, is a two-hour play. The writer and director, Ravi Thykkat, the only male associated with the play, traces the story of Sonagachhi — from how it came into existence up to present time.

“Our message today is that women should be treated equally and with dignity,” said Krishna P Nair, the general secretary of Keraleeya Mahila Samaj, serving a reminder that March 8 is Women’s Day.

The rehearsals sessions include preparing artwork for the play

Members of the group prepare the sets for the play

Members of the group prepare the sets for the play

It will be staged on World Theatre Day on March 27 at Sarat Sadan in Behala.

It was not an easy task to get everyone together for such a performance. There was resistance, Nair said.

“Some women were not ready to do a play on this topic but we explained to them and convinced them that for the women (sex workers), it is a source of livelihood,” said Nair.

Nair said there were women who would see the sex workers as doing “some sin”, an approach which she said had to change.

“For the women, it is only a job and yet they are ostracised and not treated with dignity while the men who use their service never have to go through anything close to what these women go through,” said Nair.

Nair said that for the play, the members spoke to the sex workers, all of whom shared that they were not in the profession out of choice.

Members of the group prepare the sets for the play

Members of the group prepare the sets for the play

“It is a job for them and they should be treated with dignity. This is a message we want to give to society. We are proud that we are able to change the mindset of some of the women and now 50 women are associated with this play,” said Nair.

She said the group wants everyone to watch the play.

Over 30 women will be on stage acting and others are in background working on music, choreography, set design, costume, art direction, sound recording, publicity, co-director and chief coordinator.

The assistant director of the play is Geetha Venugopal.

The play is multilingual, with Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil, Hindi, Telegu and English.

While the women characters are played by women, the male characters are also played by the women.

The Keraleeya Mahila Samaj, now led by president Prabha Menon and Nair, have done philanthropic activities over the years.

Entry for the play is through passes and one can contact 9830093494.

Last updated on 08.03.22, 01:49 PM

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