Former sex worker, author & activist, Nalini Jameela proves herself as a costume designer

"Many people have difficulty linking my name to costume designing. Because they know Nalini Jameela. But naturally, they haven't yet heard about a costume designer Nalini Jameela."

Published: 26th October 2021 02:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th October 2021 04:41 PM   |  A+A-

Nalini Jameela (Photo | Express)

By Online Desk

Nalini Jameela has donned several roles in life. The sex worker, author, and activist most recently tried her hand at costume designing. And when the Kerala State Film Awards was announced a little over a week ago, she got the special jury mention for costume designing for the movie Bharathapuzha. It is documentary filmmaker Manilal's maiden movie and the film focuses on the perspective of a sex worker, Sugandhi.

Jameela is impressed by the way how Manilal has treated the subject. In fact, Manilal has been a friend of hers for several years. Filmmaking is not a new field for her either. She has worked on short films and acted in documentaries. When Manilal approached her seeking help to choose costumes for the heroine of Bharathapuzha, she agreed readily. 

Jameela explained to The New Indian Express how she selected sarees for the protagonist of Bharathapuzha, a character whose experiences are similar to hers. Jameela said that she chose sarees with dark shades for scenes shot after sunset and light colours for daylight. She picked up cotton sarees for the character when she had to visit offices. It was Jameela who chose costumes for a couple of male characters too. Jameela also helped the actress understand the nuances of the character since a sex worker's role was a new one for the actor.

"Sex workers don't want the society's empathy. They want solidarity, " she said during a telephonic chat about their rights.

Talking about cinemas and the depiction of sex workers, Jameela had a word of praise for a couple of Tamil movies, namely Torchlight and Dhanam for their bold narratives. As for Malayalam, Shutter was commendable, she said.

Since she has proved her mettle behind the camera and as a costume designer, shouldn't she be looking forward to more projects coming her way now?

"Many people have difficulty linking my name to costume designing. Because they know Nalini Jameela. But naturally, they haven't yet heard about a costume designer Nalini Jameela," she said.

Jameela is someone who lives life on her own terms after having overcome difficult phases of her life as a sex worker.  Her works The Autobiography of a Sex Worker and Romantic Encounters of a Sex Worker were bestsellers. So, one needn't be surprised if this activist who works for the welfare of sex workers makes it big in Mollywood in the near future.


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