Through the play titled Lal Batti Express, created and performed by daughters of sex workers, the performers wanted to call attention to diverse section of people.
“After we formed the theatre group, we realised that the medium has helped in developing the confidence and strength of the girls. The play Lal Batti Express was created and performed by daughters of sex workers from Mumbai’s Kamathipura district. The term Lal Batti translates into red light, signifying the life and milieu they grew up in,” says Robin.
The hour-long play aims to destigmatise the way those in the industry are perceived, by bringing their own voices and journeys to the forefront. “The play encourages social inclusiveness, calls attention to diverse and underserved communities, and tells stories that inspire everyone to meet the challenges in their own lives. There are no written script or dialogues as such. One week ahead of any performance, the girls sit together and finalise the act. Since some of the girls are studying in India and abroad, we don’t have a fixed set of actors. The primary idea is that through the play, they wanted to communicate about the discrimination and abuse they have faced. We have been invited to various international stages. It’s a huge learning experience for the girls and for me as well,” adds Robin.
Only eight actors will be performing at the play that will be staged on January 11 at the Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall. “For the girls, it is a journey of healing and understanding that we are together in this. Not only the girls, but the audience is also benefited from the play. They get to understand the struggles these girls have faced and how they have overcome it. Usually, once the play is over, people from the audience meet us and appreciate the effort we have put into the production. Sometimes, they just give a hug or a handshake,” says the former Lieutenant.
Mahima Poddar, the founder of The Kindness Project, who is bringing the play to Chennai, says that the play will help in initiating a conversation on social inclusiveness. “This play asks and answers the question, ‘How can kindness make a difference in as many lives as possible?’, in myriad ways. It will change perspectives in a way that can have a major impact on deserving communities. The stories that will be shared by the actors will open the eyes of the audience and make them see that social inclusivity goes beyond parameters such as caste and religion. Most importantly, it teaches us that we can rise above our circumstances and use them as our strengths,” says Mahima.