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Arunima Maharshi

IWB Blogger

“Prostitution Must Be 100% Legalized,” Author-Filmmaker Aditya Kripalani

  • IWB Post
  •  January 8, 2018

The news of the screening of film ‘Tikli and Laxmi Bomb‘ at the tenth edition of Jaipur International Film Festival, took the fast lane, and the day is almost here. 

When premiered at the Kolkata International Film Festival, in November last year, director Aditya Kirpalani had shared with the media, “So far, we’ve sent the film to over fifteen international festivals and two national ones, including KIFF, and there are many more festivals that are yet to happen, so I think the film is in a great space at the moment.”

And the next month itself, he received confirmation from the JIFF committee!

Aditya Kripalani

The poster trailer of all the films being shown at the Jaipur International Film Festival in January this year. We’re at 2:02. But so so many films seem worth making time to watch. Looking forward.

Here is the throwback to our conversation with Aditya:

A best-selling author, musician, and a passionate filmmaker, Aditya Kripalani is known for his women-oriented books. Back Seat, Front Seat, and now Tikli and Laxmi Bomb, these are not just intriguing titles, but stories that reek of worst forms of patriarchy forced upon women from backgrounds that have long been tagged “lesser-privileged” by the society.

We all have our own sources of creativity, and for Aditya, it came from his observations of the multi-faceted Mumbai city. He now lives in Singapore, his other home, but forever in a love-hate relationship with Mumbai, interestingly, it was the very city that formed the backdrop of all his plots.

To find out more about Aditya’s journey of taking ‘Tikli and Laxmi Bomb’ from the pages of his book to the reels of his upcoming film, read his exclusive chat with IWB:

Tikli and Laxmi Bomb

Having donned so many artistic hats in your career, which one has given you the most satisfaction?

Film-making, I would say! And why because it gave me the opportunity to bring all the hats under one large hat.

Tikli and Laxmi Bomb

From being an assistant director in your initial phase to directing your self-authored book, how different was the experience?

Oh, great question! It was completely different and much, much satisfying. My experience as an assistant director taught me little to nothing about direction, “ADs are mainly doing administrative work.” But it did leave me with one valuable takeaway (he laughs), and that was to take good care of your assistant directors and to make sure that they get paid on time.

Tikli and Laxmi Bomb

All your books speak of sex-workers’ lives, what made you pursue this subject?

My books have largely been about what I have observed, generally and generically. I have always felt strongly for these women and the conditions they have to deal with. But what made me look at it from different perspectives, was their way of living life. They’ve seen and suffered so much and are yet so full of life, and that I believe is the reason that made me curious to dig deeper and wider. As also, that the world they belong to is not isolated, people who call them of another world, are many times found (or not) to be moving in and out of that very world themselves.

Tikli and Laxmi Bomb

Tikli and Laxmi Bomb

Give us a glimpse of Tikli and Laxmi’s world.

Tikli and Laxmi are two sex workers who work on S.V. Road, Mumbai. While Laxmi has been a part of the ever-growing sex trade for two decades, Tikli (Putul) is new to both the city and the world she’s brought to, and for, from Bangladesh. Putul is young and rebellious, and questions the system over and over. Which, at first, Laxmi tries to deal with ignorance, followed by explanations, only to later give in, and eventually join hands with Putul, to revolt against the patriarchal trend in the sex world and rise to take the business in their hands.

The story speaks of a revolution that may seem too far-fetched in reality, but it hopes to at least plant the seed in the minds of the people.”

Tikli and Laxmi Bomb

How difficult was it for you to approach them, and more than that, to get them to talk about their stories?

It wasn’t difficult at all. All I had to do was become a customer. And you don’t even have to visit a brothel to do that, there are dedicated areas in Mumbai, where “a stop” isn’t difficult to spot. Though I had already met a lot of sex workers at the time when I was researching for my second book, Front Seat, which is when I first drew the idea of Tikli and Laxmi Bomb. This time I simply had to take a drive out in my car, get them to walk-in, make the payment, and then do what I had to do, which to their surprise, was talking, and not sex.

Tikli and Laxmi Bomb

Having got so close to their world, and knowing their stories first-hand, what do you think is the reason that makes them not wanting to find the way out?

Well, for them it is not as complicated as perhaps we see it as. It is their life and they accept and live it the way it is. As I said earlier, they live life to the fullest and possess a brilliant sense of acquaintance. Interestingly, it was only in hindsight that it struck me about how I never came about to ask them about their life decisions regarding their children. And as I speak, I can even recall an instance where I had just started about my random chat (the way those conversations happened), and her wet shirt caught my attention, clearly she was lactating. But it’s strange that I didn’t happen to talk about it later in the conversation, or with any other at a different point of time. So yeah, perhaps they learn to be fine with their circumstances, but that’s how it is.

Do you support the idea of legalizing prostitution, it would at least make it easier for them to report rape and abuse?

Oh yes, absolutely! Prostitution is one of the oldest professions in the world, and it is never getting eradicated. It is not just the women that are the part of it, it is also men, who are the other leg of the business. So yes, in my opinion, it should be 100% legalized. Sex world brings rape and abuse as side-serves for them, which they have to deal with from time to time, they sure deserve a system which could enable them to report injustice.

Tikli and Laxmi Bomb

Why did you turn the book into a film? How powerful do you think films are as a medium to discuss gender equality and other such issues?

Well, the reason that I thought of converting it into a film was that cinema any day has a far wider reach as compared to a book. And all the more reason to make a film, and not a documentary. Films don’t only have to be for entertainment. I don’t say entertainment is not necessary, but at the present time, there is a dire need for us, to serve, and be served with much more than simply entertainment. Film as a platform needs to be explored, and for the betterment of our own society. I don’t say that my purpose of writing this book, or film, was to make a social impact, but what is important is that I chose to address an issue, I took a step to talk about it. I thought of it as a chance to have the subject (the audience) at my disposal, and I had to make the most of it. Also, not just me, there are so many people who are doing or wanting to do the same. And that according to me makes a difference, however small or big.

It was wonderful talking to you, Aditya. We wish “Tikli and Laxmi Bomb” great success and a very wide reach!

But before we closed the conversation, we surprised Aditya with one last question, and you ought to read what he had to say in response:

In one of your recent interviews, you were quoted saying “Women are not Complicated”. Would you shed some light on these words?

He laughed. And then said, “I would never dare say that. I don’t believe in making such statements. No wonder the headlines are always catchy.”

Well, ours sure will be your own said words.

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