Imagine hardcore criminals and life convicts who are lodged behind bars for years, walking on a makeshift ramp in Kolkata wearing a designer outfits. The background music,a ‘Baul Song’ by another group of inmates. Or imagine life convicts working tirelessly to create designer Sarees, Nehru jackets, skirts which are sold online trained by a noted fashion designer.
Inmates, mostly life convicts in Bengal jails would now not only don the robe of a fashion designer but also showcase the garments. Inmates of Presidency central jail will participate in a unique fashion show, where they will highlight the 12 seasons of Bengal through twelve different types of dresses. The show is scheduled to be held on April 14, Poila Baishak (Bengali New year).
“We have planned to organize a show in ‘Mohor Kunj’, where inmates will showcase their own designer garments. It gives a chance for the inmates to be out of the confines of the jail and showcase their talent. Those who will be invited and ordinary citizens will also be able to interact and appreciate their talent. We are also making sure that the designer wear they make gets sold,” said Abani Mohan Joardar, state jail minister.
The stage will be decorated by inmates and background music which is ‘Baul Song’ will be performed by inmates too.
Inmates and lifers like Shah Alam, Akash Ali, Gobindo Rana have been trained at Presidency jail hand printing and embroidery. Others like Barun Mondol, Md Alimuddin Raza and Santa Naskar, all life convicts for murder have been undergoing training in tailoring.
“The twelve seasons of Bengal will be represented with different dresses. The dresses will have ‘Zari’ work, hand printing and embroidery. For instance inmates who would be models will showcase hand printed umbrellas to highlight the rainy season. The dress materials will also be different. For winter they will showcase coarser dress material,” said artist Ashis Das who teaches art and designs in Presidency jail.
“Men from Presidency and women chosen from Alipore women’s correctional home will showcase the garments,” added Das.
In a separate move, the state jail department has tied up with noted fashion designer Abhishek Dutta to set up a unit inside Presidency jail. The unit will train, help design and market designer wear made by the convicts.
“We have also tied up with noted fashion designer so that we can showcase as well as market the work of inmates nationally and internationally. Fifty percent of the money generated will go to the inmates, the other will be deposited in prisoner welfare fund,” said Joardar.
“This is a unique concept. We will train a batch of 40 inmates. Be it designer shirts, trousers, Kurtas, Dhoti pants, Nehru jackets, the inmates will make it all. We will market the items both online and through stores. We have also tied up with ‘Biswa Bangla’ and ‘Tantuja’. Our profits would be shared with the state jail department,” said Abhishek Dutta, speaking to HT.
Imported machines are already in place inside Presidency jail and the training will take place in the manufacturing department.
“This will be a sustainable project, which will continue inside the jail. Prisoners will learn and make the dresses and have a share in the profit. Those who finish serving their term, will be given a chance to work in our units outside,” added Dutta.