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    Default Itís wonderful to be recognised as the Vagina girls: Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal

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    They have been banned from showing in certain cities and states, they have seen men come up on the stage to appreciate them, they have had young girls cling to them and weep incessantly, they have had political parties call them and request for tickets, they have had celebrities at their events and they have donated lakhs of rupees to battered women and to shelters for abused women.

    The 'Vagina Girls' ó Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal, Dolly Thakore, Jayati Bhatia, Avantika Akerkar and Sonali Sachdev, of The Vagina Monologues (TVM), have come a long way since 18th March 2003, the day the first show of this play was staged at the Prithvi Theatre.

    Interestingly, even after a decade of shows, their light and sound man, who has been with them throughout, still does not say the V-word. There are thousands of men and women like him, who are not comfortable with the word vagina, let alone go and watch a play that talks about it. Despite that, and the bans, TVM has had a great ride over the years.

    Producer and director of TVM Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal says, "After one of the shows, years ago, a big industrialist who has always supported us, came up to us and said that he loved the monologues. When Dolly (Thakore) asked him which one of the monologues he was talking about he said, 'Loved it all, but I still can't say the word'."

    But they have always had some great shows says Dolly and recalls, "Initially, we used to be worried that political parties and groups would come and disrupt performances like they did for a certain play where the playwright had to apologise and touch the feet of a pandit. But, our shows never faced anything like that."

    The team has not just changed lives with the play, by helping abused and battered women, but has witnessed repeat audience who come to celebrate their anniversaries and birthdays with them. "Girls who saw TVM earlier, are now older and bring their younger sisters or daughters to watch," says Dolly. Some gynaecologists who have watched the show have said if their patients from conservative societies saw this, more than half their work would be done.

    Mahabanoo says, "We had a phenomenal show at Baroda recentlyó the audience was clapping, yelling and whistling so much, that one of our actors had to say, 'Stop now, there is more'!"

    After one of our shows in 2003, an 80-year-old man came up, touched our feet on stage, and said, 'I am so glad to be alive to see that the Indian woman has reached here' ó Dolly Thakore

    There is a rapport between the audience and us. Other plays happen on stage, but the Vagina Monologues happens to each of them because they have undergone it all ó MahabanooModyKotwal

    Straight from the heart
    Once while on board an aircraft, a girl came up to Mahabanoo and wanted to give her a hug. She wanted to thank TVM ó because it helped her come out of a three-and-a-half year old abusive relationship.

 

 

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