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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd
  • Genre: Non-Classifiable
  • ISBN: 9780670084050, 0670084050
  • Pages: 216

This book takes its readers behind the scenes of Mumbai’s dance bars.

Summary Of The Book

Leela is a bar dancer, and she’s 19 years old. She introduces the author to the world of bar dancers - a world of sex, violence, gangsters and policemen, of pimps and prostitutes.

A world where young girls quickly learn to use their sexuality to achieve freedom - freedom from the sort of life that they were forced to lead before they became bar dancers.

Like the life Leela led, forced to sell her body to the local policemen by her own abusive father. Forced each day to visit the police station so that her father could buy the things he wanted, she had few options left before her.

She did not want to end up like her mother, dependent entirely on her violent husband who would hit her on very little provocation. Leela decided that if her body could be used to make money, she would do it for herself, and escape the prison her father had created for her.

Leela left her home and set off on her own, eventually ending up in Mumbai, and on the dance floor of a bar. She learnt how to dance and entice her customers, and the book goes on to tell the tale of how spent her further years.

Through this book, the author has exposed a raw and fickle world where the girls have to fight for their daily survival, and where their careers are dependent on their looks and youth.

All of them have dreams of a nice life with marriage and kids, but know that the chances of that are slim. They discuss this reality with the author, and state that they are never likely to find significant others who care about them.

Leela now has her freedom, she can lead a man on or even cut him off at will. But, like the other girls, she dreams of a Bollywood-style happy ending, where a man will come to her and carry her away, not caring about her past.

Even this fragile existence is unsure, as politics plays its hands and dance bars are banned, leaving these girls on the street to find other means of survival.

This is a book that will make readers uncomfortable, and it will force them to face realities that most people would prefer to ignore.

About Sonia Faleiro

Sonia Faleiro is a journalist and author.

Other books by Sonia Faleiro include The Girl, and contributions to various anthologies like AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories from India.

Her reporting and books focus on the vulnerable section of the society like sex workers, bar dancers, and domestic workers.

Sonia Faleiro was born in Goa. She studied at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, and at the University of Edinburgh. She has worked for many leading publications like India Today, Vogue, and Tehelka. Her writing has earned her widespread recognition and respect and many awards, including the Karmaveer Puraskaar in 2011 for Social Justice.

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Book Details
  • Penguin Books India
Author Info
  • Sonia Faleiro is an award-winning reporter and writer. She is the author of a book of fiction, The Girl, and a contributor to numerous anthologies including AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories from India. She has reported for publications including India Today and Tehelka, and is now a contributing editor with Vogue. Sonia was born in Goa, studied in Edinburgh and lives in San Francisco. She is working on her second book of non-fiction.
Ratings & Reviews
6 Ratings &
3 Reviews
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Gritty, matter-of-fact, 'documentary'-like

Ms Faleiro's book is a good read, though sometimes a bit hard - it sometimes leaves a sour taste in your mouth, the way the women are treated by the people in their lives, including their own parents.
But it's a quick read, and Faleiro does not pass judgement on anyone, so it's up to you to make up your mind about the whole situation.

I've lived in Bombay for the better part of my life, and this book is utterly believable.

Prashant Sardesai

Certified Buyer

30 Dec, 2011

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a true depiction of the underbelly of mumbai

Its a very well written book where the author has managed to keep herself in the background at all times and let the characters do the talking. For a person living in Mumbai it was fairly easy for me to imagine the locations and other details given all through. The book forces you to get out of your insulated life and look at the kind of lives many Indians live. The honesty of the book is so refreshing. Highly recommend it to everyone. Kudos to Sonia Faleiro... it takes a lot of guts to attem...

Sheetal Ladha

Certified Buyer

3 Sep, 2012

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Decent Read

The book is written well but to be very honest, I expected a lot more out of it. It did not enthrall me the way i expected it to. I expected more considering the reviews it got.
The book is well researched and the author has captured the essence of the 'life' of a bar dancer.

Arjun Pisharody

Certified Buyer

30 Mar, 2012

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