Chunri was born and raised in a brothel and, as the writer of her story puts it, “her birth was not a result of two people celebrating love”. Written by Baber K Khan and illustrated by M Basit Ansari, the comic book Chunri: The Dancing Death is the story of a girl pushed into prostitution, who finds inspiration in Bruce Lee and then fights her way to freedom.
Khan sets his novel in Mumbai’s Kamathipura district, the red light area that has captured the imagination of many novelists and filmmakers. The comic opens at a lavish bar called, quite simply, Mumbai Bar. The protagonist is based on a sex worker Khan once met in Lahore, Pakistan.
“Most of the times, whenever I heard or asked sex workers about what brought them into this trade, the answers were lack of education or employment opportunities and how they tend to earn well in this line of work,” said Khan. “But one day, a beautiful prostitute told me about herself, that her mother was paid to bring her into this world. That’s how the entire brothel has been run for generations. All of them were paid.”
Khan was also inspired by photographer Sandra Hyon’s photo project on the Bangladesh’s Kandapara Brothel, which has existed for 200 years. Since his own interactions with sex workers had been limited to those in Pakistan, and his inspiration came from a photo series on a brothel in Bangladesh, why did he choose Mumbai for the novel?
“I have no idea about Mumbai,” confessed Khan. “I still don’t. Maybe I get a few things wrong but that doesn’t change the larger message of Chunri. I don’t know how, but it was Mumbai from the get-go... deviating from everything the way I had imagined it felt like losing the charm of the story. Maybe it was because of my many Indian friends or the Bollywood influence that made Mumbai more relatable in my head. Still, I searched some more and read more and turned out, Asia’s first and second largest red-light district are both in India. The human sex trafficking, the red light districts, the paid pregnancies, these are very real in South Asian countries.”
The lack of familiarity shows: Khan’s Mumbai could be any city and Chunri could belong to any nationality.
It is apparent that Khan wants to create Chunri as a superhero-like figure, which is why the artist feels the graphic format does justice to his story. “This is the age of superheroes,” said Khan. “People are drawn to them and while most superhero stories have to show suffering in order to be compelling, they aren’t real. Chunri’s story exists in the real world, perhaps making her a hero may inspire people to see how awful social injustices are in our society.”
In the comic, Chunri is painted as different from the other women living in the brothel. The one thing that separates her from the crowd is her obsession with Bruce Lee films and the hours she spends imitating martial arts moves she sees on TV.
One night, a customer engages in what could be described “aggressive foreplay”, against Chunri’s consent. She ends up killing the man, who also turns out to be a member of the mafia. From there, the comic book follows her journey through the streets of Mumbai, as she becomes something of a vigilante and uses martial arts to get her out of sticky situations.
Khan’s attempt at creating an imagined world, the language, the locale remains at a superficial level at best and Chunri’s story ends up becoming even more confusing once cross-border relations between India and Pakistan come into play.
The central problem is that while Khan attempts to treat the story of Chunri with a light touch, the issue of sex trafficking itself is anything but light. According to Australia-based human rights group Walk Free Foundation, over 18 million people are victims of modern slavery in India. “Such persons are often engaged in domestic work, construction, farming, fishing, manual labour, forced begging, and in the sex industry,” according to a Qz report.
“People can take it as entertainment, a new superhero spawn,” Khan said. “I have tried to show her internal struggle and basically highlight the message that there is a hero in all of us, we just need to uncover it.”
Top picks, best deals and all that you need to know for the Amazon Great Indian Festival
We’ve done the hard work so you can get right to what you want amongst the 40,000+ offers across 4 days.
The Great Indian Festival (21st-24th September) by Amazon is back and it’s more tempting than ever. This edition will cater to everyone, with offers on a range of products from electronics, home appliances, apparel for men and women, personal care, toys, pet products, gourmet foods, gardening accessories and more. With such overwhelming choice of products and a dozen types of offers, it’s not the easiest to find the best deals in time to buy before your find gets sold out. You need a strategy to make sure you avail the best deals. Here’s your guide on how to make the most out of the Great Indian Festival:
Make use of the Amazon trio – Amazon Prime, Amazon Pay and Amazon app
Though the festival officially starts on 21st, Amazon Prime members will have early access starting at 12 noon on 20th September itself, enabling them to grab the best deals first. Sign up for an Amazon Prime account to not miss out on exclusive deals and products. Throughout the festival, Prime members will 30-minute early access to top deals before non-Prime members. At Rs 499/- a year, the Prime membership also brings unlimited Amazon Prime video streaming and quick delivery benefits.
Load your Amazon pay wallet; there’s assured 10% cashback (up to Rs 500). Amazon will also offer incremental cashbacks over and above bank cashbacks on select brands as a part of its Amazon Pay Offers. Shopping from the app would bring to you a whole world of benefits not available to non-app shoppers. App-only deals include flat Rs 1,250 off on hotels on shopping for more than Rs 500, and flat Rs 1,000 off on flights on a roundtrip booking of Rs 5,000 booking from Yatra. Ten lucky shoppers can also win one year of free travel worth Rs 1.5 lakhs.
Plan your shopping
The Great Indian Sale has a wide range of products, offers, flash sales and lightning deals. To make sure you don’t miss out on the best deals, or lose your mind, plan first. Make a list of things you really need or have been putting off buying. If you plan to buy electronics or appliances, do your research on the specs and shortlist the models or features you prefer. Even better, add them to your wishlist so you’re better able to track your preferred products.
Track the deals
There will be lightning deals and golden hour deals throughout the festival period. Keep track to avail the best of them. Golden-hour deals will be active on the Amazon app from 9.00pm-12.00am, while Prime users will have access to exclusive lightning deals. For example, Prime-only flash sales for Redmi 4 will start at 2.00pm and Redmi 4A at 6.00pm on 20th, while Nokia 6 will be available at Rs 1,000 off. There will be BOGO Offers (Buy One Get One free) and Bundle Offers (helping customers convert their TVs to Smart TVs at a fraction of the cost by using Fire TV Stick). Expect exclusive product launches from brands like Xiaomi (Mi Band 2 HRX 32 GB), HP (HP Sprocket Printer) and other launches from Samsung and Apple. The Half-Price Electronics Store (minimum 50% off) and stores offering minimum Rs 15,000 off will allow deal seekers to discover the top discounts.
Big discounts and top picks
The Great Indian Festival is especially a bonanza for those looking to buy electronics and home appliances. Consumers can enjoy a minimum of 25% off on washing machines, 20% off on refrigerators and 20% off on microwaves, besides deals on other appliances. Expect up to 40% off on TVs, along with No-Cost EMI and up to Rs 20,000 off on exchange.
Our favorite pick on refrigerators is the large-sized Samsung 545 L at 26% off so you can save Rs 22,710.
There are big savings to be made on UV water purifiers as well (up to 35% off), while several 5-star ACs from big brands will be available at greater than 30% discount. Our top pick is the Carrier 1.5 Ton 5-star split AC at 32% off.
There’s good news for Apple fans. The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Laptop 2017 will be available at Rs 55,990, while the iPad will be available at 20% off. Laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP will be available in the discount range of 20% to 26%. Top deals are LenovoTab3 and Yoga Tab at 41% to 38% off. Apple fans wishing to upgrade to the latest in wearable technology can enjoy Rs 8,000 off on the Apple Watch series 2 smartwatch.
If you’re looking for mobile phones, our top deal pick is the LG V20 at Rs 24,999, more than Rs 5000 off from its pre-sale price.
Home printers are a good investment for frequent flyers and those with kids at home. The discounted prices of home printers at the festival means you will never worry about boarding passes and ID documents again. The HP Deskjet basic printer will be available for Rs 1,579 at 40% off and multi-function (printer/ scanner/ Wi-Fi enabled) printers from HP Deskjet and Canon will also available at 33% off.
The sale is a great time to buy Amazon’s native products. Kindle E-readers and Fire TV Stick will be on sale with offers worth Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 respectively.
For those of you who have a bottomless collection of movies, music and photos, there is up to 60% off on hard drives and other storage devices. Our top picks are Rs 15,000 and Rs 12,000 off on Seagate Slim 5TB and 4TB hard drives respectively, available from 8.00am to 4.00pm on 21st September.
Cameras (up to 55% off) and camera accessories such as tripods, flash lights etc. are available at a good discount. Home surveillance cameras too will be cheaper. These include bullet cameras, dome cameras, simulated cameras, spy cameras and trail and game cameras.
For home medical supplies and equipment, keep an eye on the grooming and personal care section. Weighing scales, blood pressure monitors, glucometers, body fat monitors etc. will be available at a cheaper price.
The sale is also a good time to invest in home and kitchen supplies. Mixer-grinders and juicers could see lightning deals. Don’t ignore essentials like floor mops with wheels, rotating mop replacements, utensils, crockery etc. Tupperware sets, for example, will be more affordable. There are attractive discounts on bags, especially laptop bags, backpacks, diaper bags and luggage carriers.
While Amazon is extremely convenient for need-based shopping and daily essentials, it is also full of hidden treasures. During the festival, you can find deals on telescopes, polaroid cameras, smoothie makers, gym equipment, gaming consoles and more. So you’ll be able to allow yourself some indulgences!
If you have children, the festival is good time to stock up on gifts for Diwali, Christmas, return gifts etc. On offer are gaming gadgets such as Xbox, dough sets, Touching Tom Cat, Barbies, classic board games such as Life and more. There are also some products that you don’t really need, but kind of do too, such as smartphone and tablet holders, magnetic car mounts for smartphones and mobile charging station wall stands. If you’re looking for enhanced functionality in daily life, do take a look at the Amazon Basics page. On it you’ll find USB cables, kitchen shears, HDMI cables, notebooks, travel cases and other useful things you don’t realise you need.
Check-out process and payment options
Amazon is also offering an entire ecosystem to make shopping more convenient and hassle-free. For the festival duration, Amazon is offering No-Cost EMIs (zero interest EMIs) on consumer durables, appliances and smartphones, plus exchange schemes and easy installation services in 65 cities. HDFC card holders can avail additional 10% cashback on HDFC credit and debit cards. Customers will also get to “Buy Now and Pay in 2018” with HDFC Credit Cards, as the bank offers a 3 Month EMI Holiday during the days of the sale. Use Amazon Pay balance for fast and easy checkouts, quicker refunds and a secured shopping experience.
Sales are fun and with The Great Indian Festival offering big deals on big brands, it definitely calls for at least window shopping. There’s so much more than the above categories, like minimum 50% off on American Tourister luggage! To start the treasure hunt, click here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon.in and not by the Scroll editorial team.