In the Flesh
Duration: 00:52:23; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 28.257; Saturation: 0.102; Lightness: 0.241; Volume: 0.285; Cuts per Minute: 10.974; Words per Minute: 68.018
The film depicts everyday life of three sex workers, Uma and Bhaskar from Kolkata and Shabana from Nippani in Maharashtra.
On the black slide the film opens with voices that say get naked and asks someone to "let her take your photograph
Title in the Flesh
three lives in prostitution Ambience shot of Kolkata streets traffic with of taxis, buses,
hand pulled rickshaws
The word 'rickshaw' comes from the Japanese 'jinrikisha' (人力車, 人 jin = human, 力 riki = power or force, 車 sha = vehicle), a human-powered vehicle.
"Get Naked, Get Naked"
" Let her take your Photograph"
in the flesh
let her take your photograph
three lives in prostitution
Kolkata and Nippani
B:"You used to wear these? To dance?"
U:"Yes, when I used to dance. I made these with my own hands"
U:"All this is for one foot."
U:"This is nothing. The heavier they are ...the better you dance. They're for one foot... But I wore them on both... now they're too expensive"
Uma(U) is in her room, on her bed, she removes a box from a shelf, opens it and shows Bishakha(B) her ghunguroos. Her name appears as the subtitle. Bishakha asks Uma if she would wear them and dance.She replies saying yes and that she made it with her own hands. Uma says the heavier the ghunguroo is the better is the dance. Now these ghungroos have become very expensive.
The opening scene for Bhaskar, it opens with a room full of people. Bhaskar(BH) is visible at the back of the room putting on his cap.
The camera zooms in on BH, who is adjusting his cap on his head. A subtitle with his name appears.
BH begins to leave the room and is seen walking down the corridor.
"Where have you come from?"
Game Man:"Where is that?"
S:"In Maharashtra. Why?"
S:"You've already asked me twice"
Game Man:"I forgot"
S:"Make sure you don't forget me"
The introductory scene for Shabana in theDMSC
Durbar Mahila Samenway Committee's fair. The camera follows Shabana(S) as she strolls around the Salt Lake Stadium A subtitle with her name appears. She stops for a game, and counts the number of rings that the man supervising the game handed her. In the background, a man's voice is heard, summoning people to his stall. Shabana starts playing the game. The ring lands on the game table, but misses the box of cigarettes
Close-up shot of Shabana is followed by shot of Game table of prizes
A lady, Durga, playing the game. A ring lands on a bar of soap.
Shabana leaning over to talk to the game man. The game man asks her whereabouts and she replies saying she is from Sangli in Maharashtra.
box of cigarettes
durbar mahila samenway committee
game table of prizes
salt lake stadium
BH:"Twelve years old...I got into this line when I was 12. I was first spoilt by my husband,Tapan Saha." "I used to stand with my friends...in the line at Dharmatolla. I used to wear half
BH:"Some days I'd get customers...some days I wouldn't..."
BH:"many became my regulars"
The camera follows Bhaskar on the streets.
Bhaskar walking down the road
Bhaskar started in the line when he was twelve years old. He was made to realize his sexually different by his now husband,Tapan Saha. Then he started hanging with his friends in Dharmatolla when he used to wear half pants. Shot of Paanwala cutting paan
While he eats paan and chats with the paanwala he talks about his customers.He gets customers on certain days and no customers on some. Many of his customers have become regulars
Bhaskar is at a paanwala's with a friend. The paan wala folds a paan and hands it to his friend Bhaskar's friend puts the paan in his mouth.
Back in Uma's room, a whirring fan and television on in the background.
Uma in her room, seated on her bed. Uma reaches for the black and white photographs on the wall, and points them out as she describes them for Bishakha, one by one.
She points out to one of her photographs with two men performing on the stage
She talks about how she landed up with a role of the barber's wife in the play Anthony Kabial.The dancer did not come the day of the performance and the other actors asked her to play the role
Uma walks down a hall towards a stage in the dark
Uma in her room, sitting on her bed opening a make-up box.
She shows her collection of makeup treasured in a 40-years-old box from Assam.
"Uma di, whose photos are these?"
"That's me... and this..."
"This is the play 'Antony Kabial'. I used to play the barber's wife. That day their dancer didn't turn up..."
" then they asked me to dance"
"This box is really old. It's from Assam. It's at least 40 years old"
black and white
Uma enacts a monologue on the stage
Back in Uma's room, Uma sitting on her bed.
Shot of Black and White photographs. She shows the series where a man had shot her for a calendar but she took them away from him because she did not want to hang in cigaretteshops
"These photos. This one..."
"...and this... there are more too"
"One man shot these for a calendar. First he shot them...then told me it's for a calendar. I said, 'I don't want to hang...'"
" 'in a cigarette shop as a calendar'"
"So I got them back. I didn't give them"
Shabana is at the mela, humming, holding up a bar of the soap she won for two rupees.
"I have won this soap for only two rupees. Can any of you match this?"
Salt Lake Stadium
"My customers come to my house two-three times a week"
"It depends on them. It's convenient. I don't have to pay any rent. Now I have 12 customers...excluding my husband"
"Who all live here?"
"My mother, sister and me"
"The ground floor is rented out."
The camera follows Bhaskar as he walks towards his house. An inside view of a building. This is where Bhaskar lives.
This is also the place where he treats his customers, two-three times a week. The frequency of their visits are as per their convenience. As it is his house Bhaskar does not have to pay rent. He has twelve customers, excluding his husband. He lives with his mother and sister and the ground floor is rented out
two-three times a week
Bhaskar tells Bishakha that either his mother does not know that he has a husband, thinks him to be just a friend or maybe she pretends to remain oblivion to it. His mother does not protest, she is from a different era, does not show any concern about Bhaskar's sexual beings of desire
"My mother still doesn't know...that he's my husband. She thinks he's a friend. She's from another era. She's not so concerned. Maybe she knows, but doesn't say. At least she does not protest. It could be either of these. I'm going to eat, ok?"
"How long?...half an hour...one hour? Half an hour? 550 rupees"
"Why is it too much? You're getting so much"
"It's too much"
"...as if you don't have many demands. You say...how much?"
In the night in busy roads of the city midst cars and taxis. Bhaskar and his friend walking on the footpath.
A man who turns out to be a customer befriends them. Close-up shot of friend.
bargaining their rate with him. For half an hour of sex they quote 550 rupees. The customer thinks it is very high but Bhaskar says his demands would also be high during the act. They finally settle for 500 rupees of man.
Close-up of the customer Bhaskar has money in his hand.
half an hour
Shot of Shabana and her friend waiting to poach on their customers on the highway.Finally a truck stops and Shabana wants to go to Belgaum. The truck driver bargains for Shabana's rate as 40 rupees but she sticks to her rate, which is 50 rupees. The truck driver agrees
Scene of the road ahead of the truck
"Are you mad? That's my rate"
"No, no...50...then I'll come"
"50 - and I'll come"
"Ok, get on"
"So how did you get into this line?"
"I don't call it my 'line'... it's my plastic factory"
"I was told I was going to a plastic factory. This too is a story. When my husband left me...I was only 14 meaning that's when he left me. See...is that a hair? There...there. Throw it...it's tickling. How well I know that tickle."
"So when my husband left me..."
"I went to my uncle's place. His aunt-in-law..."
"she was in the 'line'
"One day, she said, 'Come, I've got you a job at a plastic factory.' Anarkali picture was playing then"
"She took me to the 3 o'clock show. Didn't know a word of Hindi...but I saw it anyway. Then she took me to Choona Galli
"I saw lots of girls standing there...lots of girls. I asked her, 'Do they all work here?' 'Yes' She put me in a room. I was sitting there. Suddenly, one man came in. He gave some money to the madam...a lot of money. They talked in Hindi"
"All I understood was... 'brand new...just arrived'"
"She latched the door from outside. He came and grabbed me. I started screaming... 'I'm married...leave me.' I banged on the door."
"A voice came from outside... 'Shut up! It's for your own good!' I started struggling with the man. I was 15-16...strong...Then he took pity on me. He said, 'Sit...calm down.' He said, 'Open the door!' The madam asked him, 'Done?' 'No. It's ok, don't say anything to her...she's a novice. She doesn't know anything. I'll come again'"
"Later, the aunt-in-law asked me...'Did he touch you?' 'Yes'. I had told her... 'If my husband ever wants me back...I'll go to him. Don't destroy me.'"
"She said, 'If another man touches you...you have no honour left.' So I had nothing left any more. He had touched me... I had no honour left."
Bright billboards and shop signs. A view of a brightly lit street.
Uma in her room, seated on her bed, tying up her hair.
Uma relates her story about how she entered the line. When she was 14 yrs old her husband abandoned her she went to live with her uncle and the aunt-in -law was into prostitution. Uma was told that she would be going to a plastic factory to work. But after a film show of Anarkali she was taken to Choona Gali where she saw girls standing.
Shot of a man pulling tonga down dark and crowded street lined with young girls
She was taken inside a room.
Then a man came in there, gave lots of money to the aunt and had a conversation in Hindi. What Uma could only decipher was brand newjust arrived. She was latched behind the door with the man. The man grabbed her and she screamed saying she was married. Her aunt said it was for Uma's own good but Uma kept struggling until the man let her go saying that Uma was a novice
As Uma narrates the camera moves through dark lanes in the night with tongawalas,of streets dimly lit and men drinking chai.
The camera follows a tonga as it is pulled down a dark and crowded street.
View of a narrow street with people walking up and down.
The camera is then back to Uma in her room, seated on her bed.
The aunt then asked her if the man had touched Uma to which she said yes. So Uma had no honour left as some other man had touched her, but she still maintained of her husband wants her back she would go back to him.
wants her back
A shot of a truck driving along a highway during the day. Small car driving along the highway.
The camera follows Shabana and another woman, Shabana opens the latch to her room, enters, and reads aloud from the posters on her walls
Shabana seen through a mirror, sitting on her bed.
She points at the goddesses in the room, Yellamma. Lakshmi. Bholenath. Sai Baba. Maruti and the actress Aishwarya Rai whom Shabana thought looks like her daughter. There was Kajol,and the poem 'Waiting' also adorned the wall. Shabana quickly then takes away her bra that was hanging on the wall, embarrassed she says she left it last night. The room that she shows is the one where she gets her customers and the other house is where she stays.
"This is one of the rooms...one more. This is my room"
"What else is there in this room?"
"Oh, my goddesses...Yellamma. Lakshmi. Bholenath. Sai Baba. Maruti....and then...actress Aishwarya Rai...she looks like my daughter. Kajol...the 'Waiting' poem. All these people's pictures. Oh ho, here's my bra! Just left it here...yesterday. I only get my customers here stay here at nights otherwise I stay in the other house"
The shot starts with the inside view of the brothel. Clothes hanging on the line
Uma in her room, seated on her bed.
Bishakha asked Uma why did she not continue with theatre. Uma said she could not continue because it was a bad age of 15-16 and people refused to give a room to a girl, specially the women of the household, so she had to come in the brothel.
View outside Uma's room. A boy runs up the stairs.
And camera comes back to focus on Uma in her room, seated on her bed.
Uma was married of at the age of four to change her lineage because in their family girl child did not live beyond the age of 10. They would either be burnt to death or drowned.
Shot of little girl rolling around on the floor
Her husband was 18 when Uma got married and his body was filled with lust and desire for sex.
Close up shot of face of girl. The camera shifts from the girl to Uma, who is sitting on her bed
The husband would get angry because Uma used to sleep with her in-laws and could not tolerate her. But Uma's, mother in law was very nice. Had she been alive Uma said she would not have taken into prostitution.
Long shot of Uma standing in the corridor, talking to a man, asking him to give water early in the evening.
"How come you didn't continue in theatre?"
"The first problem was... I didn't have a room. No family would give me a room. Actually, I was at a 'bad' age"
"I was 15-16...alone...who'd keep me in their house? Even if the men agreed to rent me a room, the women wouldn't"
"I just couldn't get a room anywhere. Finally I had to come here"
"The thing is... I was married off at the age of four. In our family, girls never lived...beyond 10. They would either burn...or drown. They would always die"
"So they married me off at four... to change my lineage"
"That too...what a husband! I was four, he was18"
"His body was full of sex. I wouldn't sleep with him...I would sleep with my in-laws. He would get enraged...really angry! He couldn't stand me!"
View of brothel outside Uma's room.
"But my mother-in-law was very nice"
A woman and a child sitting on a bed in a room.
Uma in her room, seated on her bed.
Uma: "Instead of my mother-in-law dying...if my mother had died...I would not have had to come here."
"Give me the water early this evening"
age of 10
desire for sex
the age of four
The scene depicts Bhaskar applying make up and a seductive hindi film soundtrack playing in the background. He paints a bindi,puts on eye makeup touches up his hair and eyebrows
Shot of a man is having his ear cleaned. Uma in the background wearing a green coat talking.
Shot of a group of men standing
Uma sitting in front of the clinic abuses someone as son of a pig and then is seen reading out to a group of men ways in which they would not get AIDS. She is reading from a book of STDs
"Get lost... you son of a pig!"
Uma:"...that way you won't get AIDS"
reading from a <book
son of a pig
The sequence depicts Shabana and another women in walking into the Public Health Centre at Nippani. With a form from the doctor they are seen pulling out boxes of Nirodh. They are taking away their stock of Nirodh which is a popular brand of condom
public health centre
'So how did you learn make-up?"
"A hijra (transgender) friend of mine...he used to dance for a living. He asked if I wanted to earn some money. My father had died... mother ran the house. My sister and I were studying... I thought, 'Let's earn some money.' My mother wouldn't have let me go. I left without telling my mother. Then I sent her a letter. She was upset. 'Come back...not good.' She was scared that...if the hijras took me... I'd get into their line. But I am one of them! She was still scared...what if they really take me away? In those days...I didn't know the 'M' of make-up...or how to wear a sari. I would put the pleats at the back...at the side. Slowly, slowly...they taught me"
The shot is a close up of Bhaskar seen through the mirror; he is seated in front of a mirror, doing his make-up.
Bishakha asks him about how he learnt the art of make up. Bhaskar answered a hijra (transgender) friend of his who was a dancer and earned his livelihood through dancing. As Bhaskar's father was dead and his mother ran the house,Bahskar went with his friend to earn money. He left without informing his family. His mother was really upset and was also scared that the hijras would lead her son into their lifestyle.Bhaskar did not know anything of make up or how to wear a sari, he would put the pleats at the back. He picked it all up from nothing.
"What are you doing, Shabana?"
"But, why on the trees?"
"We bring customers here. See...there's a sheet there. Did you see? A sheet...to spread. Wait, I'll get it"
"All used Nirodh...See... that's all Nirodh. We spread it here...and take customers."
"But why in the fields?"
"We don't get customers in the village...they want to drink"
"How many women come here?"
"10-12 from Belgaum...also from Nippani, Hattarki, Shankeshwar. For every five bullies...we get two customers. If we don't take them...they don't let us take customers
here. They beat me up really badly...really badly. Two hours, we come here in the morning...not in the evenings"
"But why come here in the fields?"
"I also come here. We can't afford to share the money. With the madam...we have to share 50-50...here we get the whole 100"
Long shot of Shabana crossing the highway. Woman with a child in her arms at the side of the road, with two other women.
Shabana is with three other women. Together they walk down a slope, alongside the road Shabana is walking behind them with a bag in her hand.
Shabana is seen placing condoms in between the branches of a tree.
Shabana tells Bishakha that the forest midst trees is their site of doing the act. They put Nirodh between the branches of the trees. Then she shows the team the sheet that is also hidden between the trees.
Shabana spreads the sheet on the ground.
Shabana by the tree, with a packet of condoms in her hand.
She points out at the used Nirodhs lying on the ground. It is quite troublesome to get the customers in the village because they want to consume alcohol, she added some 10-12 women come from Belgaum, Nippani,Hattakari and Sankeshwar. For every five bullies they end up getting just two customers. Refusal of the bullies is not an option otherwise the women get beaten up.
Shabana putting condoms in a tin
They just operate in the forest two hours in the morning.
Shabana talking to Bishakha holding on to the branch.By attending to the customers in the fields to save, otherwise half the renumeration goes to the madam.
A busy street. Uma sitting outside a clinic, seen from a distance.
People on a busy street. Lady with umbrella.
Lady eating an ice-lolly.
Painted picture of girl with ribbons in her hair. One man hands ice-lollies to two others. They are standing together Children playing.
Uma in her room, seated on her bed. Man sitting on bed and reading a book. A TV is on in the background
Woman doing her hair.
Children playing by the stairs at Uma's place. They are singing.
Umas asks them not to make noise
Uma is kneeling under her bed, re-arranging a few utensils.
Uma tries to sit on her bed.
Close-up of a TV, a man dancing on television.
A man sitting in Uma's room .
Uma shredding a coconut.
Uma is with a young boy who is embracing her.
Boy smiling broadly.
Bishakha asks her who the boy is. Uma says its her grandson Bubai. The little boy says Uma is his wife
Voice of unknown man:
"Now..in Bengali. Sexually transmitted disease"
"I'll give you a tight slap...didn't you just say it! What's wrong with you?!"
"Don't make noise!"
"...and he is?"
"She's my wife!"
"See...that's what he calls me"
Bhaskar sitting outside his room,
He tells Bishakha how his husband spoilt him. Bhaskar did not know anything about sex.These days boys know it the moment they come out of the womb,They know about handlemarna in the bathroom or when they see a girl what do theyfeel.
Bhaskar sitting in the same place looking up into a neighbour's flat while conversing with Bishakha. The neighbour aks why did he let the dog out? He replied he did so otherwise the dog would disrupt the shooting. The neighbor complained the dog ate up the rice. Irritated, Bhaskar asks the neighbor to poison the dog.
He continues saying his husband was their class monitor. While peeing Bhaskar had to squat which boys do not do. 2-3 of them suspected. Even Tapan did. Then when Bhaskar was down with malaria Tapan came to visit him. He touched his chest and Bhaskar retorted saying that boys do not touch boys. Tapan replied that Bhaskar was not the pal he was the girlfriend.
Bhaskar comes out of the room wearing a red dress
Bhaskar sitting on the floor in his room with a sari vendor, who is untying his bundle.
Bhaskar sitting on the floor with saris on his lap.
Shot of Saris
Bhaskar with sari.
He now bargains with the vendor over price of the sari.
Bhaskar sitting outside his room, close-up of his face.
Bhaskar is with the sari vendor again. He removes money from his wallet to give to him.
He owed the vendor 1000 rupees. Emerges from the room in the long red dress and asks the vendor to be happy with the money.
They keep bargaining till the shot closes.
"Why do you say ...your husband 'spoilt' you?"
"I say 'spoilt' because...I didn't know anything then. What is 'sex'? I had no idea. In those days...we didn't know all this. Today, a boy knows what sex is the minute he falls out of the womb! He knows what 'handle marna' is...in the bathroom...or what you feel...when you see a girl. They know all this. We didn't know any of this"
"What is it? What is it? I am talking, what is it?"
"You let the dog out"
"What could I do? We're shooting...the dog would have come in"
"It's eating up my rice"
"Who's to blame, that's the issue. Which colours do you have?"
"He was my class monitor...where I used to study. I could never stand up to pee...I had to squat. I didn't want anyone to know...Boys stand and pee...girls squat. I used to worry about this. The others might find out...then it would become an issue. So I had to do something. When everyone returned to the class...I would put up my hand. 'Sir...bathroom'"
"2-3 boys suspected"
"They told Tapan, the monitor"
"He also started suspecting"
"When I had malaria...he came to see me. My mother said I was lying in bed. So he came up. What he saw, I don't know...but he saw something. Anyway, we started talking. While talking to me...he put his hand on my chest. I thought...'What's this?'boy...touching...boy. He said, 'You're not a pal...You're a girlfriend!'"
"How much do I owe you?"
"You're getting this...so don't look at me like that!"
"Just 100 more..."
"I don't have any more! I don't have"
"First listen to me"
Man walking into a room. Bhaskar emerges from his room in a long red dress
Shabana with a client in a room, demonstrating the way in which women in prostitution convince customers to wear condoms.
The customer requests Shabana to take off all her clothes. She refuses saying she has got her periods and her body is hurting
The customer refuses to use condom as it will not be fun. The customer is stubborn. Shabana asks him to go away and while he is leaving, Shabana allures him back saying she will remove her clothes and get romantic use the condom and then make love.
Shabana tells Bishakha that women can make men dance to their tune whenever they want to.
"Can you ever turn down a customer?"
"You'll take off all your clothes?"
"Are you mad or what"
"I make them understand...'I won't sleep with you.' 'Why?' he asks. 'No no...I've just got my periods...two days back...my body's hurting"
"No, no..no condom. It won't be any fun...I won't use Nirodh"
"It's a lot of fun with Nirodh"
"Then I won't return your money...Go!"
"Fine, I'm going!"
"I don't want Nirodh. If you're putting Nirodh...then I'm not interested"
"See...I'm taking off all my clothes"
"Use it with other customers...but not with me!"
"A woman can make a fool... of a man in two minutes"
"...but think about your wife..."
"Do men make us dance to their tune? No...we make the men dance... to any tune we want"
"First a little romance then the Nirodh...ok?"
Bhaskar seen through a mirror hanging in his room.
Close-up of Bhaskar seen through a mirror.
He tells Bishakha how his customers have such prettywives, he had asked them why do they still come to him. They have replied the medium of sex is different. Women have two things,with Bhaskar sex is later, it's the other things he does first
Bhaskar reclined on his bed, wearing a long red dress.
He says he has two of his customers who are crazy about him .One is a Bengali, the other one is Kalwar, a lower caste. Its been an era that they have been coming to him, and have never deserted him. One of them got married. Bhaskar has never told them that he is in love with them lest they exploit that for free sex. He does not want his golden geese turn into brass. His husband does not know because then everything can turnwrong. He doesn't want his beautiful golden geese to fly away.
"Most of my customers are married. I ask many of them..."You have such a pretty wife... (I've seen their photos). What do you want from me?"
"Most of them say one thing...With you..."
"the 'medium' of sex is different. When one goes to a woman...she has two things...With you, one can't get that. Sex comes later, first you do other things"
"Ever fallen in love with a customer?"
"Yes...many...actually two! ...who are totally crazy about me...give me anything I want. One is Bengali...but lower caste. The other is a Kalwar. An era has passed...since they've been coming to me. But they never left me. One of them got married"
"...but the loving never stopped"
"But I never told them...that I loved them. Because once I say that...they won't remain customers! It will change. I've seen many customers...use love as an excuse to leave without paying. I don't want that! They're my golden geese...laying golden eggs...Don't want them to turn into brass!"
"Doesn't your husband mind?"
"No...he doesn't know. Where will he mind?"
"He who knows...let him be here. He who doesn't...let him be there. No use mixing them up...or a lot can go wrong. My beautiful golden geese... will all fly away!"
"I'm switching off the TV"
"There are a lot of girls at the corner. Don't take their photos!"
Uma in her room, seated on her bed. She switches off the TV
Uma closing the window by her bed.
Uma cleans her spectacles and puts them on.
Uma locking her door and tucking the keys into her sari
Camera moves through the brothel
View of bathing area in the brothel.
Uma asks the camera person not to take pictures of the girls
Uma standing on the road.
Close-up of yellow bus
DURBAR MILLENIUM FAIR 2001
People sitting and watching a dance performance at a fair.
Dancers in pink and blue.
Bhaskar embracing Uma.
Scenes at the fair. A group of people dancing.
A man adjusting his yellow sari. Uma talking to Shabana, who is standing with a few others. She explains the starfruitdesign or kamranga to Shabana. In Hindi it is called bhomral
Shabana placing a hair band on a man's head, and is seen setting his hair. Someone takes a.bindi and places it on Shabana's forehead.
Shabana asks if she is looking good and then confirms with someone if they are headed to Sonagachi
Lines of women waiting for their lunch at the fair.
Close-up of lunch counter at fair.
Women serving rice.
Man serving himself dal.
Uma with a cold-drink in her hand saying how she has to boil water for her traction in the evening
The AIDS monster walking around the fair
Shabana doing condom demonstration for a group of people. The condom is on two of her fingers.
She asks them to test it for tear. The man jovially says how do they take it off and who will take it off. Shabana says the men themselves and the man refuses saying since the women put it on they must also take off the condoms.
Scene of fair at night.
Mujra dancer on stage dancing to Inhi Logon ne (Film-Pakeejah
"This is like a starfruit
"What? What...in Hindi please"
"We call it a 'kamranga' design"
"We call it 'bhormal'"
"No, we have to go to Sonagachi. Isn't that right, madam? Call everyone! Am I looking good?"
"Yes. You're going to a good place too!"
"In the evening, I'll boil water... for my hot water bottle...take traction. I have to do all this"
"...test it like this for any tear...understood?"
"And how to take it off? Nothat it's on...who will take it off?"
"That you'll have to do!"
"Why should I take it off?"
"...use a paper or cloth"
"YOU put it on, YOU take it off!"
"We won't take it off"
Salt Lake Satdium
inhi logon ne
Bhaskar and his friend are walking down a road at night.
Bhaskar and his friend standing together. He says there are problems from the police, they conduct raids.Takes them to the lock up, confiscates all the money. There are also friendly policemen, they take bribe and does not conduct raids.
Bhaskar trying on jewelry with his friend at a road-side jewelry stall. He bargains with the shopkeeper
He continues the cop stories; how they also start enjoyingfree sex.So whoever is the protector is the violator.
Bhaskar chides the shopkeeper for the right price, he tries the bangles,talks about overpriced stuff will give him a heart attack and the police will catch the shopkeeper.
"There are problems... of course!"
"There are raids...Raids...like it is with the women. They lock them up...take money...then leave them. Same thing happens with us"
"Then sometimes...we get friendly with the
cops...some of them. Every week they take money from us...and don't do raids"
"...give me the right price"
"How much... 45? 35!"
"...plus the cops start enjoying us. They do the same things us. Then we think, "What's this?" "The protector is the violator"
"Don't me a heart attack. I'll die here only. The police will come and catch you"
Shot of cars zooming by at night
Uma standing on the road in a yellow sari at night, she talks about the pimp who set her with clients in a private car. It was for one hour and they took her to anemptydesolate field.
Close up shot of Uma seated at the back of a moving car. The clients, she continues, wanted to rape her. When she refused to get down, they got angry and started beating her. She screamed.
View of the road, with cars.
She shouted for help with no result. Then she asked these men for food, they threatened to kill her below Budge Budge bridge.
She grabbed the driver's throat and got hold of the steering wheel and the car run up on the footpath. The other man started beating Uma and she received big blows on her stomach
"Once a pimp sent me out in a private car. They took me in the car...to an empty field. They said...one hour...There...that field...no people...nothing...totally desolate"
"They wanted me to get down...so they could both rape me. But I didn't get down. Then they got angry. One of them started beating me. I started screaming"
"There were cars passing by. I shouted...'Help...Help!'"
"No one came to help me"
"We were going down an empty road...I didn't know where"
"Then I said, "I'm hungry...give me something to eat." They said, "Yeah...sure... let's go below Budge Budge bridge...your end is near"
"Then what I did was... I stood up...the driver...put my arms around him...grabbed the steering wheel"
"I wrenched the wheel...the car went on to the footpath"
"The car couldn't come down...I was still holding the steering. The other man...started beating me...violently. His blows fell on my stomach"
Uma is standing on a podium delivering a speech where she says it is the society that is responsible for the 32 stitches she has in her stomach
"Today my stomach hangs in four parts...Who's responsible? Who did this? This society! 32 stitches on my stomach...Who's responsible for it?"
Salt Lake Stadium
"People call us names....prostitutes...beggars. Why is this? We sell our bodies to survive...can't we do this job? When others do jobs...nobody calls them beggars. We're in prostitution... so we're called beggars"
"We're also women. We sell our bodies to you...fulfill your desires. Then why do you call us beggars?"
"What you don't get at home...you get from us...you feel so much at peace. Isn't this true?
"Hey! You'll get filmed! Come!"
"People are so afraid... They come secretly. They won't come openly!"
"An 'honest man' is a liar... a 'liar' is an honest man"
"They want mujras...dancers...not prostitutes like us. We're 'dirty'. This is how they think. Those who dance are women...and so are we"
"'Prostitution is bad'"...that's what the government thinks. Film stars..."
"show so much sex in films. Think about it...that's also a form of prostitution"
"Hero-heroine take money and..."
"show sex in public"
"Love, sex, romance...that should also be considered bad"
"Why don't they think... that this is wrong?"
"The only difference is...they have sex from above...we have sex from below! We are also part of this society...we have some standing in society. So what if we are in prostitution? Are we not women?"
Women standing together in a group. Bandi says people call them prostitutes and beggars,they sell their bodies and earn their livelihood, so when others do their jobs why are not they also referred as beggars?
Shabana standing with the group of women ans says that they sell bodies to fulfill desires, so why are they beggars then?Men come to them for what they don't get at homes so what is wrong about it?
Camera focuses on to men watching the shoot. Shabana says people are afraid to acknowledge that they go to prostitutes for
Group of men, two men on cycles.
The man acknowledges that a liar is considered the be an honest man.
Shabana with a grup of women at the fair goes on to say,
the clients wants mujras, dancers but not prostitutes who are apparently dirtybut all women are the same.
Shabana on stage, addressing other women and in prostitution at the DMSC fair.
She says the government thinks prostitution is bad. She retorts about so much sex in films. The filmstars also take money to bare themselves on screen, then loveromancesex everything should be banned as they are to be considered bad?
View of the hall with Shabana behind the mike and people listening to her.
The difference is the filmstars have sex from above (they are shot from above) and we have it from below but both parties are a part of society, so why should they be treated differently
March of women and men in prostitution at night. Many banners hoisted.
Uma in the crowd of marchers.
MAY 1 RALLY, 2001
Women and men marching at night, holding up banners
shouting slogans of Long Live DMSC
View of road, of the march from a distance.
Women marchers with rods of fire
Crowds of people standing around an effigy that has been set ablaze.
Women and men screaming slogans, flaming rods of fire.
The effigy falls.
Women and men at night with rods of fire.
Bhaskar at the march, caught on a video-camera screen.
Bhaskar at the march, being filmed.
"Long live DMSC!"
long live dmsc
may 1 rally
rods of fire
"Show me...show me"
"First let me..."
"See, you've started wearing specs. Let's see how it looks on me. Where did it go?"
"You'll break it"
"No no no..."
"It's looking nice"
Sky and trees
Shabana at home with her partner, Dastgir, and daughter, Salma. Salma is trying on a new pair of dark glasses for her mother. Shabana is
rejoicing over the glasses
Uma in her room, on her bed, sitting with another woman, ready to do her traction. She jokes with Bishakha in her blouse and towel asking Bishakha to quote the price of the costume.
"You've started shooting too early...and I am in this state! Know the price of this dress?"
"But you'll take traction in this"
"But you know the price. You just started shooting it!"
Bhaskar at home, sitting with his mother
Bhaskar and his mother.
Bhaskar's friend is sitting on a bed, next to Bhaskar and his mother. His mother says she is an auditor at Burmah Shell. She adds because their parents never lived off them she also does not want to stay on her children's money.
Picture of a man on the wall.
Bhaskar flipping through a photo album (glimpses of photographs in the album) and camera zooms on the man's photograph who is his husband, Tapan Saha.
A man standing by a car at night. He is playfully spanked by another.
Tapan Saha standing by a car at night, looking in through the window, Tapan goes to say that he loves to have fun and have fights. He is into fish business. Bhaskar says jokingly that Tapan is very polite and smirks saying Rascal No.1
Bhaskar with his mother.
"I do auditing in Burmah Shell"
"My parents never lived off us..."
"why should I live off him?"
"This is my husband"
"No use lying... I love fighting, having fun"
"What does he do?"
"I've told them you've very polite...Rascal No.1"
Uma: "Say we've had a hassle...a problem with some guys. They would sit in the lane"
"If they said something...touched me as I walked by... I couldn't say anything. Then what we would do...KEYS!"
"Tie the keys to the sari on a big ring. Lots of keys. I'd tie them like this. If I had to go alone...there...like this. Now I...Move away...move away. I go...from far away I see them sitting. The keys are in my hand...I go...doing this...as if I am in my own world. They say, "She's coming"... some of them stand up. When I see them advance...I extend the end of the sari. Move away...move away. I start whirring it around. Round and round...and I go past them"
"I'll take one more whisky"
"One the roof we used to...take these liquor bottles...English pints...Bengali pints. We'd fill them with water...add a little soda...washing soda...put on the corks and leave them on the roofs. They would bake in the sun..."
"on top of that...soda! Nobody could enter our lane"
"These were on all the roofs...on many of the roofs. We'd hold the bottles...and bricks...break them into small pieces...make a pile of bricks"
"Whoever came...we'd pelt bricks on them. We'd shake the bottles... and fling them. The sound! Oh man!"
Uma (to a short man standing at the store):
"Don't you go there any more?"
"I'm selling lottery tickets"
"Completely? Can't cut down the booze?"
View of street lined with stores at night.
View of shop windows.
Uma said they often had trouble with guys who used to sit in the lanes.
What Uma would do is use the keys
The camera moves to Uma in her room, on her bed, with keys in her hand, demonstrating how she would tie the keys to the sari and whirred them around and scare them.
View of street lined with stores. Close-up of a poster with a woman's face.
Uma at liquor store asking for a whisky bottle.
Close-up of Uma at liquor store.
Man behind counter of liquor store, packing a box for Uma..
Uma narrates how they filled bottles with soda and put them in the sun to bake. Nobody would the dare to enter the lane and harass the girls. They would break the bottles and pelt them as bricks
Man with spectacles at liquor store. Uma asks him if he had stopped doing theatre. The man replies he is selling lotterytickets .
Uma scorns him for being an alcoholic
"Do you have a favourite hero?"
Shabana and Salma watching the movie
"He talks to women with respect"
"He keeps two women in all his films. One married, one his keep"
"I like it a lot! Dances very well..."
"as well as any woman. I used to never miss any of his films"
"He's nice! He doesn't hurt his wife...or his keep. In the end when his keep dies...he goes himself to bury her. Doesn't care what his family thinks...or about others. He had buried Rekha...it was shown like that. He's a good...hero"
Shabana at the cinema watching a film with her daughter.
Close-up of Salma,
Shabana and her daughter watching Rehna Hai tere Dil mein. Shabana says her favourite hero is Jeetendra. He is a good actor and a great dancer, he respects both his women, the
wife and the keep
Movie-screen, with hero and heroin,
Jeetendra does not care about society and goes to perform the last rites for his keep who was played by Rekha
rehna hai tere dil mein
Uma in her room, sitting on her bed, uncorking a bottle of beer in preparation for a party.
Uma pouring a glass, a close-up
Everyone puts their glasses together and say "Cheers"
The sequence is that of a party in which Uma and other women are drinking alcohol,smoking,dancing and making merry
Song Prem taal mein(Film-Jis Desh Mein Ganga behti hai
Uma: " Everybody, Don"
bottle of beer
jis desh mein ganga behti hai
prem taal mein
"At this press conference, they said... on 18th February, 2002... at a premise in Nippani..."
"many helpless women in the flesh trade...had called for a meeting"
"They said that they own these premises...but the local people don't want anyone in the flesh trade ...to hold any programmes here"
"The local Shiv Sena corporator... has threatened to stop these meetings...they have claimed"
Shabana with Meena at the press conference
"These are meetings to prevent AIDS. We show photos of STDs...talk about issues of sexuality. So we can't hold these outdoors. We need an enclosed room"
S:"Their contention is...'Use that space for prostitution...but don't hold meetings there'"
S:"...they broke down the gates... and came to my door with sticks to beat. The next day they said..."If you stay in Nippani, we'll throw acid on you in your room..."
S:"pour kerosene and burn your house." They have even threatened... to abduct my daughter. Threatened me with even this!"
"What action did you take initially? Did you try to resist in any way?
S: "First I went to the Town police station. It was 8 at night...Wednesday. He didn't register my complaint. I said... "4-5 men have threatened me...take down my complaint...what if something happens to me?" He said... "We won't register your complaint but you can go and talk to Babasaheb Khambe." I said, "He's the one behind all this...and I'll go to him?"
S:"Then he retorted, 'You're a prostitute...and such demands! Slut! Whore!'"
S: "I don't care if I lose my job...but I will tear apart your vagina!'"
"He uses these very words"
"What further action will you take?"
S: "Khot, the cop, has to apologise...or he should be dismissed. For me to return to Nippani...I should be given security. If something happens to me... they should catch Khot and Khambe!"
The TV footage of Tehelka Samachar where on 18th Feb 2002 Sangram called for a press conference in Bombay to address atrocities of policemen and politicians to women in flesh trade. The sex workers have bought a place in the premises but the local people do not want programmes related to flesh trade being held there.The local Shiv Senacorporater has threatened them to stop meetings there. Meena Seshu,Director of Sangram says these meetings are conducted for prevention of AIDS. There are talks about sexuality and photos of STDs for which they need an enclosed space. They said the space can be used for "dhanda" but not for meetings. They broke Shabana's gate, threatened to throw acid in her room and abduct her daughter if she stayed at Nippani. Shabana went to complain to the police who refused to lodge a complain and asked her to talk to Balasaheb Khambe,the policeman verbally abused her saying that she is a slut and how can a whore have such demands?and threatened to tear open her vagina. When the press people asked for her demands she said Khot the cop should be dismissed and if anything happens to her these two people should be interrogated and she demanded security
18th feb 2002
ear open her vagina
"How long have you known Uma di?"
M:"See...I can't disclose everything...whatever is possible...I'll touch on. I met her in '84 or '85. No, '85...after Saraswati puja"
M:"I used to roam around. After coming here...so many years passed...with her. I came to her because she lived alone. I'd never seen this before. This drew me. I thought I'd stay for a while...then move on. From being a few days...she almost yoked me to her. It is like she has made me her prey"
M:"She just didn't leave me"
B:"What would you name this relationship?"
M: "At home I've told them I've married her...and this is a fact. It did happen. But I don't tell anyone about this...because to get legally married papers have to be signed. Otherwise it's not recognised. I can't sign the papers. I've discussed it with my mother...she has objections"
U cooking and looks upto the camera t talk to B.
U:"I go to their house. His mother...sister...
they all know everything. Nobody says anything to my face"
M:"But they don't accept this. Now that I'm older...they don't fight with me. If she phones, they call me. If she goes over, they chat. But they don't accept her from within"
U:"The day he put vermilion on me...from that day..."
M:"No it was earlier..."
U:"I left it"
M:"She'd stopped taking customers earlier."
M:"I don't know if it's good or bad... It has to be done. We fought about this a lot. I'm not a one-woman man...At times I may not desire her. She tried to make me what I'm not. It took time to adjust. I've demanded that...I sleep with other women"
U:"Move a bit..."
M:"Once she put kerosene on herself and closed the door... she was about to strike the match...I had to break down the door. Those were incredible days. Whenever we drank... we used to fight. I wasn't used to...being with one woman"
B:"So when did you leave the 'line'?"
U: "16-17 years"
B:"So what did you do then?"
U:"Income...he gave me. That's how I lived"
U:"I had some jewellery...it went...couldn't get it back."
B:"On leaving the line, many women... become madams. You didn't do this?"
M:"Yes, she suggested this...She didn't do it...To make that's exploitation"
M:"Living off a girl...that's encouraging the 'line'. I don't want to encourage it. What's already here...that's a different matter. But I don't want to encourage it"
U:"It's true, I had said this...but the thing is... on four Saturdays each month...I don't eat rice...I fast. So I thought...if I keep a girl...and I'm outside the room...she may touch my water with dirty hands...later I might drink that...she might spit somewhere...That's all. It's not that... I'm extra clean. But I do have...my own little quirks"
Shot of roads of Kolkata with trams rolling. Aerial view of crowded street Uma is in her room with her partner Mohan Datta.
Uma is cooking
while Mohan sits
on the bed and
talks to Bishakha.
Bishakha asks him about his relationship with Uma. He refuses to disclose all details but says they met in 1984,85. He used to roam about. But since he came to Uma he stayed on with her. His attraction was she living alone.He thought he would be around for a while and then leave, but she yoked him and he fell as her prey. He has married her but not legally on papersbecause his mother has objections.They do not say anything but has not accepted the relationship in principle. Uma left the line the day Mohan put vermillion on her forehead. They fought a lot about not taking customers, about Mohan not being a one woman's man,about he wanting to sleep with other women
Mohan then narrates how Uma attempted suicide by pouring kerosene over herself and he saved her by breaking the door. Whenever they drank alcohol they fought. Its been 16-17 yrs Uma has left the line. Her income was whatever Mohan gave her and she had to sell off some of her jewellery. She did not become the madam after retiring because Mohan thought living off other girls was exploitation and for Uma she thought the girls could be detrimental to her religious rituals and hygiene
one woman's man
Mohan recites in the background.
M:"I don't feel like talking
I don't feel like staying dumb"
"I don't even feel like
Burying my face in wine or song
I'm in the city, in the suburbs
Be he a sage or a wise man
All move to the rhythm of the earth
But what rhythm do I move to?
Blood in the beloved's sighs
I never touched the bird of paradise"
A blurred shot of men walking into a colorful room. The background captures M's voice.
Shot of U and M walking together,U leaning on M as they walk together. He reciting plays in the background.