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How Tawaifs Became Mere Sex Workers with the British Siege of Lucknow?

Tawaifs were masters of performing arts. Embodiments of
grandeur and culture, they were more than just beautiful dancers. But their glory faded and how...

Published 31.05.24, 10:43 AM

Tawaifs were wealthy and among the top taxpayers with “largest individual incomes of any in the city” during the Nawab's rule of Lucknow. They were voracious readers, well-versed with literature, poetry and politics. Kothas — their home and stage
were only ever open to the wealthy and elites. They enjoyed utmost respect and power in the Mughal courts.

While sex was part of their lifestyle, it wasn't obligatory and definitely not what defined them, as inadvertently portrayed in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s 'Heeramandi' that has attempted to shed light on their life and times.


By the time Delhi fell to the British, Tawaifs found themselves amidst brewing mutiny against the East India Company. The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 was a turning point in India's road to freedom. But it was also an end of the road for Tawaifs and their affluence. Here's retracting their journey...

Video Producer: Aparna Singh
Video Editor: Rajbir Singh


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