Twenty-one-year-old Shweta Krantikari, daughter of a sex worker from Kamathipura, expresses her identity through a street play. In her act named ‘Lalbatti Express part 2’, she wants to emote the challenges faced by girls like her to overcome stereotypes of a red-light area. “This has been named part 2 because it is an extension of our previous act— Lalbatti Express— staged across cities in the United States last year. While in the previous act, we had spoken about who we are and what we face, this particular act will go one step ahead and narrate how lives could be different and beyond the circles of society that limits us into,” Tanya Hosmani, one of the team mates said.
Around 15 girls between the age groups of 14 and 22 plan to hit the streets of the United Kingdom for a month starting Wednesday. Theatres where they will perform during the European tour include the theatre festival in Edinburgh and the Smoke Alley theatre in Dublin. The girls had performed in a few theatres and on the streets of New York, Chicago, San Francisco for two months last year. Backed by Kranti, an NGO, the girls now gear up to get their act ready before they plan to leave on Wednesday morning.
“We have been able to collect money for only six tickets of the girls for a one-way trip that starts on Wednesday. We rely on crowd-sourcing and grants from philanthropists or corporates who believe in our vision. Certain parts of the trip which include our stay, travel allowances have been taken care of from different sources,” said Bina Das, founder of Kranti NGO.
“The act talks about the stereotypes faced by them for being the daughters of sex workers, the relationship they share with their mothers who continue to be in the business, overcoming strong emotions including guilt and anxiety and also other indications of different types of marginalisation hurled at them,” Jaya Iyer, co-ordinator of the act said.
Most of the girls, who are pursuing studies at different schools or colleges, look forward to this trip as an opportunity to meet different people and gather knowledge. After having performed for different acts in Mumbai which include Prithvi theater in Juhu, National Center for Performing Arts in Nariman Point, going beyond their boundaries, they say, feels like a dream come true. “I was going to take up a simple job after completing my studies. With this act and Kranti, I got much better exposure to things and learnt to go beyond that what we are perceived to be,” Farha Shaikh, team member said.