New Delhi: On a rainy July morning, Sumit Kumar, a murder convict in Delhi’s Tihar Jail, one of the country’s largest, finishes his tea and rushes to begin his dance session in preparation for the latest season of a reality show that over the last few years has become a regular feature of the prison.
Sumit, 25, and 19 other participants of the Tihar Idol-3 quickly gather in the music and dance academy room in the sprawling prison complex.
After they clean the floor and remove dust from the musical instruments, the room turns into a virtual studio. Akash Kumar, an undertrial in a murder case, and Mohit Pal, convicted for rape, practice a freestyle dance form.
While Sumit, who leads the dance troupe, is serving life imprisonment, Mohit has already completed six years of his eight-year-term. But for the time being they forget they are in a jail, serving or facing imprisonment. Whoa! They are shouting, laughing, clapping, whistling and singing loudly.
Back in the virtual studio of Tihar, Naresh Baisla, a music director, who organises the annual Tihar Idol that began in 2012, is overseeing the music and dance practice.
“The outside world has no idea what happens in a jail. We have completed two seasons, the first is ”Jaane Anjaane Tihar Idols” and other is ”Tihar Idols Reality Show”,” said Baisla who was allowed to watch the practice session. “Initially I was not interested but when other prisoners encouraged me to take up dance, I did…only to escape the emotional pain,” said Sumit, who hails from Rajasthan.
‘Every prisoner deserves second chance’
- Famous singers like Sonu Nigam, Suresh Wadkar, Arun Paudwal, Sajad Khan, Sudha Chandran (classical dancer) and music director Pandit Jwala Prasad have participated as judges in earlier Tihar Idol seasons.
- Most of the inmates said if they get a ‘chance’, they would prove themselves in the world outside. ‘All this is being done to give them a chance to reform themselves and battle deeply disturbing mental conditions they undergo after committing crimes,’ said director general-prisons Ajay Kashyap.
- He said prisoners generally feel that they are just a ‘number’ (every prisoner gets a number by which he is called) in society and that makes them feel depressed and useless. ‘Every prisoner in the jail deserves the second chance to live a new, reformed life,’ said Kashyap.