Inmates of Presidency and Alipore Women's Correctional Homes in Kolkata formed a dance-drama troupe and staged shows across the city.
The dance troupe is an outcome of 'Dance Therapy' mooted by the Inspector in General of Prisons in West Bengal as a part of the reform process.
The dance troupe consists of 75 members who perform on a regular basis in Kolkata. Among them 54 are the prisoners who have now turned into stage thespians.
The 54 prisoners include 44 men and 10 women, who take on a new identity on stage while turning into actors with aplomb and dancing.
"The idea is to give them an opportunity to be able to do something good for the society so that they can feel that they are a part of the society. They can feel that they are the citizens of this country and they can have the joy and happiness," said B D Sharma, Inspector in General, Prisons, West Bengal.
Odissi dancer Alokananda Roy has been training these prisoners in the jail for the past one year. She has witnessed a tremendous change in the convicts.
Initially, to generate the interest of the prisoners, Alokananda opted for Indian martial dance forms like Kalaripattu and Chhau, which have bold music and manly steps instead of Indian classical dance. But now, the jail inmates are open to all kinds of dances.
The play 'Valmiki's Pratibha', a dance drama that was performed recently tells the story of a person turning over a new life. The dance drama already had over seven performances in different theatres of Kolkata.
"I never thought that I would be able to bring them out to perform on this public stage," said Alokananda Roy, a danseuse.
All the prisoners consider Roy as their motherly figure. Nigel Akara, a prisoner got charmed by Roy's commitment to their cause and joined the dance therapy session.
"We don't need any benefit as long as our mother is concerned. We want to just do whatever she says. We want to do good deeds in our life because we understand now that good deeds lead you to the true path," said Nigel Akara, a prisoner performer.