Via Humans of Bombay:
“Growing up, my mother played the role of both parents for me. She taught me independence at a very early age– she trusted me being alone at home so that she could go to work. I was 15 when I worked as a magician’s assistant — I made my first Rs. 700! Then I moved on to my first job which was to talk non-stop for 12 hours, selling a start up kit. I was paid 7500 Rs for ten days and bought my first pair of branded shoes with the money!
After graduation, my mother sent me to Dubai to get work experience. She said, ‘You’ll do it’ and I believed her. That was the first time I ever sat on a flight – I was 21. I was scared, but I didn’t have any other option. I stayed with my cousin, until I found an apartment and a job. I worked at an IT company after that.
But I always wanted to work in Bombay. So I saved money to move here. When I got here, I stayed with 3 boys I barely knew and hustled daily to find work. I went to event managers everyday and secured anchoring gigs. My first show was in front of 8 people. Soon I was earning enough and stopped depending on my savings.
It wasn’t easy. Once I was dressed for my gig, when only 3 hours before I was told they found a ‘known face’. I cried that day, but also immediately started working towards the next project. I understood the power of rejection. I accepted it and moved on.
Simultaneously, I began going to auditions. I’d carry a bag with a formal shirt, kurta and party dress everywhere, in case the opportunity came up. That’s how I got a role in Ready. I took a lot of pride playing a maid in a Salman Khan film. Many people scoffed at me but I told them I was ‘ready-maid’ for the role!
Through word of mouth I started getting more roles. I was often told my nose was crooked and my hairline was scraggy but I refused to change any aspect of myself. I believe that who I am is the most beautiful version of me.
Still, there are days when I don’t feel like getting out of bed, when I feel like I can’t do it. But I remind myself that ‘today I have so much more than I ever did before’ and that thought is enough to push me forward. So at this point I can cook myself a meal every day while earning a living and providing for my cat and family, and that doesn’t make me better than others- It just make me, me.
I haven’t made it yet. I’ll know I’ve made it only when I die, because that’s when there will be nothing more to look forward to. From being a magician’s assistant to playing a transgender in Sacred Games, every role has made me grow. And, if I’m better than yesterday I am a success story.”