No, they are not from the fashion industry. They know nothing about designs and the fashion world. But, working seeminglessly behind the screen, they are set to give new lease to fashionistas here in the City of Joy. And in return, they would receive a new life.
It's the first of its kind, and one to rejoice, the inmates of a correctional home in Kolkata are being imparted training for stitching costumes for fashion events.
"These people will make fashion wear and that will be sold from boutiques," said fashion designer Abhisek Dutta to PTI.
Workshops are being held to help the inmates of the Presidency Correctional Home. Most of the members are convicts and undertrials in serious crimes,Dutta said, adding that those having shown skill during the workshop will be inducted in the industry as weavers.
"My team is conducting workshop within the correctional home premises and we have already set up 24 state-of-the-art sewing machines," he said.
The correctional home authorities are extending all help toward the initiative. "The correctional home authorities had approached me to do something for the inmates when I had previously met prison officials at an event and that's how it all began," Dutta said.
The fashion designer is currently collaborating with West Bengal government-run Tantuja with his retail pretline.
"We had seen due to prejudices they do not get employment after coming out of prison. If they become part of our fashion industry by consistently working during their prison term and get remuneration, they can be inducted formally after release," Dutta said.
In another four-five year time, they will be called as 'Karigars', Dutta said, adding, "Those oriented to art have been selected after we saw their sketch."
"From my experience in working with them (correctional home inmates) in my cultural programmes, I know they have an aesthetic side which needs to be tapped and they should be allowed to come back to the mainstream of society," Danseuse-social activist Alakananda Roy told PTI. Actor Parambrata Chatterjee also pledged support to the initiative.
(With inputs from agencies)