trans women band Life & Style

Talents transformed: Meet the members of trans women band Spicy Girls

Jasmine

Jasmine   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Hyderabad-based trans women band Spicy Girls makes a statement by singing and performing at gender rights seminars and in theme-based skits

The year: 2011. The stage: People’s Plaza on Necklace Road. A group of 10 dancers dressed in black performed a medley of Bollywood item numbers. As they sizzled to the song ‘Mayya Mayya’ (from Guru), and the crowd called it a hot, spicy performance. Olga B Aaron, member of the Transgender Welfare Board suggested the name Spicy Girls to the group. That name stuck to the eight-member trans women band in city that had formed in 2006.

In these nine years, the group has been able to break free of society’s prejudices and create a platform to raise community-related issues, perform skits, musical shows, all geared to send out message against being stigmatised for their identity and show that their talent is much more than grooving to item numbers. One of the band’s recent accomplishments was that three of its members — Muvvala Chandramukhi, Priya Murthy and Rachana Mudraboina — sang a number in Rajinikanth’s Darbar.

Spunky statements

The band’s eight members sing and dance at their community events, Pride parades, gender rights seminars and conferences. In Swabhimaan Yatra, the traditional Bathukamma number highlighted their issues — Udyogaalu ledu uyyalo, undadaniki illu ledu uyyalo, prabhutvan pattichikovatam ledu uyyalo, mamalni choodandi uyyalo...

M Chandramukhi

M Chandramukhi   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Chandramukhi had initiated the idea of creating a band. An extrovert thriving on social life, she was born as Rajesh M Kumar and faced emotional and physical abuse. Her new life as a woman unleashed her talent. With a microphone in hand, she transforms into a different person — singing, acting, anchoring shows and analysing issues. “Though my family didn’t support me, it gave me freedom to be on my own. My aunt helped me. My mother couldn’t come out of societal boundaries, but now she proudly says that she has two daughters, one son and a transgender.” She recollects, “As a transgender I didn’t want to only beg and sleep on the roads. I was a graduate and wanted to take up a job to have my own identity.” Chandramukhi got an employment with Pehchaan — India HIV AIDS Alliance and became a transgender manager for unified Andhra Pradesh. From reading news on 99TV, analysing issues and doing YouTube videos, she got an opportunity to work in the film Nenu Raja Nene Mantri directed by Teja.

Rekha Murthy

Rekha Murthy   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Priya who is a post-graduate, trained in Kuchipudi and is now a Bollywood dancer, theatre artiste, anchor and singer. Her show Gadasari Atta Sogasari Kodalu with Chandramukhi are loaded with witty banter. “We make sure our spectators do not get bored,” she smiles. As a freelance consultant, researcher and activist, she works for HIV/AIDS prevention, human rights sensitisation programmes and trains volunteers in the field. She says, “We transgenders have many hidden talents but struggle for opportunities. When I listen to Radio FM channels, I feel I can perform better than them; I want to be an RJ.” Her determination to forge an identity stems from her anger and pain. “One lecturer said, ‘You are a kojja (eunuch) and will live like this only’. Deeply hurt, I challenged him that I will work on a laptop sitting along with him. It took me eight years to rise to the challenge.”

A native of Bheemavaram, Jasmine (born Venkata Satyanarayana) has been living in Hyderabad for 25 years. “I love to dance,” she says. “We freelance and hence are able to give out time and money. Talented transpersons can join the band but they have to be committed. This is a talent platform to showcase our skills. We are not dependent on anyone, from costumes to make-up, we plan everything on our own.”

Reaching out

Besides Hyderabad, the Spicy Girls have performed in Chennai and Delhi too, and out up around 10 performances (mostly gender-based skits) in a year.

Rachana Mudraboina

Rachana Mudraboina   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Rachana, one of the band’s founders is happy with the response to nine episodes of her YouTube channel Trans Vision. Their videos in Telugu, Urdu and Kannada have English subtitles. She says, “The fact that there were no negative comments and brought visibility to trans issues is an achievement. In Karnataka, our videos were used for gender sensitisation. Our own struggle and survival has brought us here.”

The channel’s new series, anchored by Chandramukhi, will educate children and adults on how to address trans people. One of the episodes asks people why they laugh on seeing transgenders. “When we talk of inculcating gender sensitisation education from childhood, we should also speak about transgenders, then they will seen as normal people, without bias.”

Though the band shot into limelight with Darbar, its members are not rapidly rising. The onus is on the community to create a path for others to follow. “We encouraged the spark of talent in Chandramukhi, Jasmine and Nithya and made them realise life is not for begging and prostitution. More girls have to come forward to bring changes. They could anchor, dance, run beauty parlours or design dresses for celebrities,” says Priya adding success is still a distant dream. “ We cannot show different job opportunities, as we too are struggling. It is a slow process; nothing can be achieved unless society changes.”

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 1:28:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/spicy-girls-is-hyderabad-based-trans-women-music-band/article30724700.ece

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