Kalmuhi is an Instagram page featuring art on female bodies and sexuality. Started just two months ago, the page has received a lot of appreciation for its powerful feminist art.
It was started by Pranjali Dubey, a 21 year old artist from Ahmedabad, and a recent graduate from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (SIMC), Pune. “Doodling is something I’ve been doing since school,” Pranjali says. “All my notebooks in school and college were always full of doodles.” With some free time on her hands after college, Pranjali began to doodle full time.
Initially she posted her doodles on her personal Instagram account, and faced some backlash for it. Some said her doodles were too bold. Others said the topics she was covering should not be discussed in the public setting. Inspired by the flak she received, Pranjali decided to start a separate Instagram page focusing on these issues.
“That’s when I came up with the idea of being a Kalmuhi in a patriarchal society,” Pranjali says. Kalmuhi is a derogatory term used to insult and slutshame women. Literally translated as black-faced, it originally meant someone who has blackened their face or brought shame upon their family. Now it is used to insult any woman who breaks the rules or does not fit into society’s norms.
Pranjali decided to reclaim the word through her art, covering topics like menstruation, body shaming, lack of sexuality education, lack of awareness about reproductive health, and misogyny in general. “If someone calls me a Kalmuhi for talking about these issues, it empowers me,” she says.
So how does she choose the issues she wants to cover? Pranjali focuses on issues that she has personally faced, or that are close to her heart. For instance, students in the Indian education system are not given any information about sex or menstruation. “The first time I got my periods, I thought I was dying!” Pranjali says.
She thinks that these issues need to be brought to the surface, rather than hidden away. “The reproductive health of our country is bad” she says. Only 2.5% of India’s GDP has been allocated towards public health this year, a rise from the measly 1.4% in 2014. “How will we develop as a country if we don’t take care of our people?
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The artwork has received a lot of love and appreciation, though she still receives the same negative comments. “My parents were initially very apprehensive about me talking about such things openly,” Pranjali admits. “But now I’m way past the stage where these messages will affect me.”
Now Pranjali wants to cover issues related to abuse (physical, sexual and emotional) and mental health. She is planning collaborations with different artists. “I really want to take Kalmuhi forward,” she says, “But right now I’m focusing on getting more exposure and visibility.”
You can get in touch with Pranjali at email@example.com. Until then, follow her Instagram to enjoy her amazing doodles.