The issues related to Mumbai dance bars are multifaceted and very deep-rooted. They have layered nuances, primarily socio-economic and carry legacies of our colonial past. The core problem is a complex social issue. Unfortunately, currently it has become a focused politicized agenda. What we see as a debauched revelations of cultural travesty in the dance bars are only a manifestation of a deep-rooted social problem. We need socio-economic and socio-cultural interventions at various levels of our society to cure it. Politics will not be able to solve the issue at all. By preventing the dance bars to operate in Mumbai, the malady will not be eradicated. They will come up in someplace else. Like dance bars have started mushrooming in Kolkata post 15th August 2005 after proclamation of closure of dance bars in Mumbai.
The dichotomy of this debate is that the people those who patronize dance bars or participate as performers don’t talk about it and, the people those who are debating the issue have hardly any clue of what they are talking about. I have rarely seen any compelling debate or discussion on the genesis and evolution of this genre – because it is stigmatized. The subject is taboo and, surrounded by prejudice. In civil society we pretend that it does not exist. And even when rarely we speak about it, we speak in a very hushed tone.
I am not at all glossing over the goodness of dance bars, neither am I remotely suggesting that it should not be barricaded. All that has been suggested is that some amount of mature thoughts should be applied to eradicate the root-causes of the issue. And, those causes are not surely inside the dance bars. They are somewhere else.
Have we really studied the ‘supply chain management ‘ of the dance bar business? Do we know how did the dance bars started operating in Mumbai? Have we ever tried to find out where from the dancers come? Their origins?
What could be their compelling reasons? Poverty? Coercion? I have my doubt that these could be the only and most significant reasons. Is there anything else…?
What is the lifestyle of this section of our society – the dance bar girls? Why did they choose the Mumbai dance bars? Why is it that the majority of the dancers of Mumbai dance bars hail from the central Indian provinces of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan? Even specifically from a certain region of these states. Where do they live in this city? How is the family life like? What are their aspirations? Have we ever tried finding the answers to all these questions?
In my book ‘Without Prejudice‘ I have tried narrating this story.
Like every action of our society, pieces of evidences and situations narrated in my book are scattered over different media through the centuries; from the published memoirs of the British era, to the government records of our country, to study papers submitted by the scholars in the recent times, as well as news reports in various newspapers, magazines, electronic and other media.
I have referred to certain historical, social, and political events in the story as well, which were necessary for establishing the veracity of the theme. And, of course, I have spoken to a lot many dancers. And, it took a lot of time to win over their confidences.
To borrow the words of Abraham Lincoln, this book is written, ‘with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right …’. Lastly, any resemblance with any person, living or dead, with any character of the book is not intentional and deliberate.
The book launch will take place on August 9 at Title Waves, Bandra, Mumbai. Please visit our Facebook events page to stay updated.