India's First Trans Women Rappers Want Voters To Chose Their Leaders Carefully

Meet Madhu, Sarita and Nandini, who were part of 'Hatt Saala' - the first rap song sung by transgender women from Odisha's Balangir

At a time when citizens’ rights take centre stage, three trans women have decided to rap about their problems with the current government.

Meet Madhu, Sarita and Nandini, who were part of ‘Hatt Saala’ – the first rap song sung by transgender women from Odisha’s Balangir.

“We go on trains to beg for money and go to weddings with dholaks to celebrate along with people. This song should make voters think who they should vote for. Someone who will actually work for our benefit. People need to vote only after seeing the kind of work the parties have done so that they cast their vote for the party that will be able to carry on the good work,” says Nandini.

The song is impactful and was made with the idea that it would lead to introspection among voters. However, visibility in public spaces is still an issue that transgender women like Sarita are still wary of. “I was extremely nervous to perform in the music video. I’ve never sung songs like this before but once I saw my friends sing, I also made up my mind to sing.”

The message in the video is clear and both Nandini and Sarita are confident about what they want to tell the masses. Nandini wants voters to introspect before voting while Sarita hopes the song makes lawmakers realise how the transgender community remains marginalised.

“We usually have to go on trains and ask for money but we’ll earn a living this way as long as we have the energy to do so. Once our strength is gone, we can’t continue doing this. There are many kinnars who are educated like me so we need to get jobs instead. Unless we get jobs, it’s not going to get better,” says Sarita.

They also want people to cast their votes after making an informed decision. “Anyone going out to vote will be able to get some perspective through this song and people should hear it. This video gives us more visibility. People will be reminded that we are also fighting for our rights, which is going to help the community find a place in the legislative system. Our song, which I hope everyone will like, is basically a cautionary tale so that no one gets cheated while making choices,” says Nandini.

Filmmaker Shankhajeet De’s self-financed project is an attempt to hold the authorities accountable. The video’s location makes a distinct switch from the bylanes of Titlagarh in Odisha to the seat of power in Delhi. “The high point of the country’s largest festival, which is voting, is mainly centred in New Delhi, Parliament, India Gate. These are all the symbols for me. Even though the song begins at Titlagarh, all the three kinnars and the rapper go to Delhi and visit these symbols- India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan, South Block, and Qutub Minar to make their voices heard. This was my visualisation,” Shankhajeet says.