New Delhi: When asked why women like Shenaaz and Shanti aren`t called for parties anymore, Hans shrugs. "I do feel bad for them, but what can we do? We need to cater to clients and few want Indian women these days.
They feel European women are more beautiful." Losing their livelihood along with the art is not the
only problem faced by these dancers, they have o deal with abusive customers too.
While most of the "unruly clients" are dealt with by the `maliks` or the older women in these `kothas,` few cases are reported to the police. "I have given my mobile number to many of the sex workers on GB Road to contact me in case they have a problem, but few approach me," says SHO of Kamala Market police station Surinder Jeet Kaur.
Kaur brushes aside claims by some of the dancers that police frequently disrupt their mujra dance sessions in the evenings by conducting raids and scare away customers. "I`m not aware of any raids during the dance sessions.
But when we do conduct raids it is to search for minors who have been smuggled into these `kothas`," says the officer. Adversities are many, but that hasn`t stopped these dancers from practising the art, although they wouldn`t encourage their daughters to choose their path.
"We take our art seriously and want to keep it alive as long as we live. But we wouldn`t want our daughters to do what we are doing.
We want them to lead normal lives. We don`t want people to look away and make faces like they do to us," says 37-year-old Rangeela, who works in a building in the area which houses the maximum number of Mujra dancers.
"I watched Madhuri Dikshit dancing to `Maar Daala` in `Devdas.` We feel proud when we find that we inspire people to write about us... that we are part of history.
So many people come to us to ask questions about our work and our problems. We don`t see them ever again, nor does help come our way," says 26-year-old Bhavna from Rajasthan, attending to a tear in her faded anarkali dress.