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February 1, 2014

Book Review - 150 : Nazaqat

Author : Sasha.H.Singhal
Publisher : Half Baked Beans Publishing

I have never completely understood the fascination of writers using pseudonym when they themselves promote it by their own name. Considering solely on Indian standards, the content of this book may be considered as 'bold' and may be that prompted the decision of not using your own name on the book cover. But that does not take away from the fact that it is still a book waiting to find its own identity.

Naazani, a shy girl with a lonely childhood, was born and brought up in Dehradun. She moves to a metropolitan for further education and gets absorbed. In a series of events, she decides to adopt prostitution and becomes one of the most successful high profile escorts of the city with the help of her manager Sharat. In a quest to be successful, she leaves her friends behind and dedicates more time to her profession. Nazaqat witnesses a police raid at a nearby place and the real scenario of prostitution terrifies her. She decides to take a stand and do something about it.

However, Sharat convinces her that she is not powerful enough to make a difference. Nazaqat retires and pool all her money and starts a restaurant 'Joy foods' in partnership with Sharat. The business grows and soon enough they have numerous outlets in various cities and Naazani Singh Shekhawat emerges as a significant entrepreneur of nation. To cherish the old memories, she organizes a group together and calls all her old friends. 

Next morning, it is found that something drastic happened the night before. Meanwhile, she invites an author Matthews, who is an old acquaintance to pen down her own biography. He visits her each night and in a series of ten nights, her story finds its crescendo. Will prostitution be legalized? Whats her intention with the biography she is planning? What shall be the fate of Naazani Singh Shekhawat aka Nazaqat?

Set in 2030 India, so that presumably we will be more 'bolder' and 'modern' then (though hardly anything happens in the story which makes you believe we are that far ahead in time), the book should be praised for approaching the sexual themes with full throttle - even touching on homosexuality, gender discrimination and need of prostitution with confident, but broad strokes. The lingo signifies the latest fads and cuss words, but what is lacking here is lack of finesse to take the story to the next level. Instead, there is underlining of each emotion, there is hardly any thing left to the imagination of readers and soon, it becomes one preaching lesson on prostitution.

The length of the book also don't help much. At 200 pages and plot material so thin, it will taste your patience. The poems/snippets interspersed within the narrative act as speed breakers and hardly contribute anything additional to the story. I am going with 2.5/5 for 'Nazaqat', it's a brave mess. But mess, nevertheless.

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