By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: At a special screening of Nagesh Kukunoor’s Lakshmi for sex workers held at the centre of the red-light area at the Alankar theatre on Grant Road in Mumbai, Kukunoor was accosted by a group of extremely overwrought sex workers who wanted to know who the played the nasty pimp in the film.
“Agar woh mil jaye to hum ussey aisa sabak sikhaayenge ki naani yaad aa jayegi (If we find who played the role of a pimp, we will teach him a lesson she will never forget),” they told Kukunoor after the film.
Of course when they got to know that the ‘offender’ was none other than Kukunoor himself, the sex workers directed their wrath at him bombarding with loud expletives and jostling him until he had to be urgently whisked away from the crowds.
Laughing at the experience, the film’s co-producer Elahi Heptoolah said, “It was a screening only for the sex workers of Kamathipura (the red-light district of Mumbai) . The atmosphere was charged and emotional. The ladies completely empathized with what was being shown on screen. They felt it was their own story put up there and the pimp, played by our dear director Nagesh, represented everything that was evil in their lives. They felt a deep hatred for his character. They couldn’t recognize Nagesh who stood quietly outside to see then off after the show as the guy played they pimp. When they did they were very upset.”
There are plans to show Kukunoor’s film to prostitutes all across India.
Says Elahi, “We feel Lakshmi is relevant to sex workers’ lives far beyond a film. We want to expose the film in all the red-light areas of the country. But first we’re trying to get it released in Alankar cinema on Grant Road, so all the sex workers would be able to watch it.”