Thursday, October 13, 2005

braveheart in Indian Idol

I found this article on rediff. com on 13th august. its ineteresting for people who are down and not out. read it

Eunuch wants to be Indian Idol

Patcy N | October 13, 2005 16:49 IST

Indian Idol's second season has begun, with the first round of short-listing already completed in Mumbai. While at the audition, I see all kinds of people, from as far off as Jharkhand and Chattisgarh, there to try their luck. It is Sweety who surprises me most though -- a eunuch aiming for the tag of Indian Idol.

It is a courageous move. The organisers realise it too, ushering Sweety in directly to avoid comments from the crowd. And while some participants do tease her, she replies only with a cute smile. Dressed in a red ghagara choli with golden embroidery, she has heavy makeup on, with pink foundation on her stomach. It is the latter that catches my eye, flat as the tummy of any Bollywood actress.

Faisal Khan a.k.a. Sweety is a bar dancer. She calls herself an artiste, saying that dancing at a bar is also a display of art. Originally from Kolkatta, she shifted to Mumbai six years ago and came to the audition after being prompted by her friend Jaunith. "He isn't like me," she adds, promptly. Sweety has danced in a couple of films, including a Bengali film called Bhalo Basho Ki Aage Bhojani and Hindi films like Tamboo Mein Bamboo and Time Pass.

I ask her about the closure of dance bars. "I have no work anymore," she tells me. "While dancing at the bar, I could run my household easily. Now, there is nothing. My mother is paralysed. I need a lot of money, which is why I'm here." The family, comprising her mother, brother, sister and sister-in-law, live in Kolkata. Sweety lives with her boyfriend in Mumbai, where they share expenses.

"I don't mind not being selected," she says, when we talk about Indian Idol. "I will still bless all participants and hope the program goes on." When asked which song she intends to sing at the audition, she says it is Anaida's Unchi Nichi Hai Dagariya, and promptly gives me a sneak preview. What if she is selected, I ask. "It will be the happiest moment of my life," she replies. "My only ambition has been to dance in a big movie."

When Sweety arrived in Mumbai, she joined a dance class in Dadar, paying Rs 1000 per month. After it shut down four months later, she moved to Andheri. A few of her friends, knowing she danced well, asked her to consider joining a dance bar. With no other source of income, she agreed. Initially, she told her family she was working at the movies. When she told them the truth later, they were still supportive.

For the moment, Sweety works as a door-to-door salesperson, selling soap and frying pans for a firm called Sapna Company. She gets a rupee for ever bar of soap sold. It is her first month, so she doesn't know what she has earned so far. "People empathise with me," she says. "I tell them I was a bar dancer and have no options anymore. They don't even bargain and, sometimes, even end up giving me tips."

She knows it's a hard life. "I used to earn between Rs 1000 and Rs 3000 rupees daily, even after the 30 per cent commission given to the hotel. Now, I have nothing." Surprisingly, she isn't exactly in favour of dance bars opening. "I don't say they should open," she says, "but in its hurry to shut them down, the government didn't even think of 70,000 girls who are now jobless. Who will take care of their families? They should have given us alternate employment before shutting down the bars."

As the ushers came to her away to the audition, she proudly ends our conversation saying she isn't afraid of hard work. "I am an artist, and I likes people who appreciate artists," she says. She wants to be an actor but believes she'll never manage because she has no backing. She does want everyone to bless her though, so she comes up in life.

As she moves away, I find myself wishing her a lot of luck, silently.

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