The men and women of Dharavi, the world’s largest slum, were quite curious about Kissa Yoni Ka, the Hindi translation of The Vagina Monologues, which they heard was a bold play about a never-spoken-about part of the woman’s body. As the performance started one could hear peals of soft laughter, which soon became louder and less self-conscious, more from the women’s side of the hall. As the play progressed, it ensconced them within itself; a lot of women felt that it was their own story.  

Poor-Box Productions, Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA), and Make-a-Difference Foundation had joined hands to develop this global play in Hindi for the people of Dharavi. The purpose was to raise consciousness of the audience towards women’s sexuality and feelings.  

The play was produced and directed by Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal and Kaizaad Kotwal, who co-founded Poor-Box Productions, and featured, apart from Mahabanoo, veteran actor Dolly Thakore along with Rasika Duggal, Dilnaz Irani and Swati Das. The play was presented at the Alley Galli Biennale, a social engagement project and public art exhibition that celebrates the talent and creativity of the people of Dharavi.  

Written by Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues has become a theatrical phenomenon. The celebrated play remains just as relevant, given the experiences of women and girls in India today. Through outrageous comedy, poignant drama and soul-stirring poetry rarely seen on stage, the play tells varied and compelling stories of women. Poor-Box Productions recently celebrated 12 years of The Vagina Monologues in India, a show most had predicted would not last 10 shows.  

In the pic: Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal