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Author, sex worker and now an actress

Thiruvananthapuram — Nalini Jameela, a 53-year-old sex worker, has been using make-up to attract customers since 1978, but she donned the grease paint Thursday to act in an English documentary film titled “Sex, Lies and a Book”.

The 28-minute documentary, based on a book by Jameela, is being produced jointly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT). Sanjeev Sivan is the film’s director.

“The shooting for the docu-drama has begun and I am really excited because we have given a totally different treatment, which is unlike the usual documentary,” said Sivan, who is ace cinematographer Santhosh Sivan’s younger brother.

“I was asked by the producers to do this film and I felt it was a great theme for a docu-drama because I read her book, which sold like hot cakes in Kerala,” added Sivan.

The film has been compartmentalised into three spans of Jameela’s life – her childhood, her youth and her present life.

A 13-year-old girl and 35-year-old woman play the first two phases of the sex worker’s life while Jameela plays herself in the current phase.

“She speaks on camera on important happenings in her life and we re-create it and I feel this is going to be a great product,” added Sivan.

Jameela, who is based in Kozhikode in north Kerala, has been coordinator of the Kerala Sex Workers Forum since 2001 and is also the live wire of Firm – the apex body of five non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Jameela has no qualms about her profession. She currently stays with her daughter and enjoys spending time with her grand daughter.

Jameela is excited about working in the documentary.

“I have not done acting before so I don’t know how I would be able to act. I’ll tell you about my experience in a few days time. I never dreamt that I would be able to act in a film,” Jameela told IANS.

“I am too pre-occupied with work among the sex workers, so I get very little time to practice my profession. But I make it a point to have at least three sessions a month with clients of mine,” said Jameela.

Jameela’s book in Malayalam “Oru Laingyikathozhilaliyude Atma Katha” (The life of a sex worker) released last year and was a great hit among readers.

“That book sold 13,000 copies. I, along with five others, have come out with a second book titled “Njan Laingyikathozhilali” (I am a sex worker). It has sold 6000 copies. This book is now being translated into Gujarati, Bengali and Tamil,” added Jameela.

The film will be shot in and around Kerala’s capital and is likely to be completed in a week’s time.

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