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Binodini Dasi, also known as Noti Binodini, was born in1862 to a prostitute. Being born to a sex worker had challenges in an already women-suppressing world. Her mother and grandmother were sex workers. Their family was in extreme poverty that her brother had to marry at the age of five so the family could be fed through dowry money. Binodini would learn music from a singe and accompany him to his sessions. They would often give rooms on rent, and one of the tenants, Ganga Baiji, was her ticket to the theatre. She went to the theatre for the first time when she was nine and awe-struck by the ambience, she was determined to be on stage. Later, she expressed her desire to act; this way, she could also help her family financially. She got several roles in the Bengali theatre, one of her notable roles was as Hemlata in Haralal Ray’s play. She worked hard and got mythological roles such as Sita, Draupadi and Radha. She turned 24, and with her 12 years in theatre spreading to 80 roles, she quits theatre.

Besides being one of the very first female actors, she was the first actress in South Asia to pen her autobiography. One of the dark secrets she revealed through her theatre experience was that the profession of acting being male-dominated gives rise to gender disparity and poor working conditions for women. Binodini Dasi led her life on her terms despite all the societal impositions. She always worked hard for her dreams and proved to be an excellent actress in the industry. Her autobiography got published in the year 1913. All her life, she lived in Kolkata. She paved the way for women to enter the acting career. She was an inspiration to every aspiring female actor. She was a 19th-century feminist. She never moved out of the city, even in her last days, nor did she leave her home despite all the fame. She died in the year 1941.


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