Sunday, May 4, 2014

Review: Nazaqat by Sasha H Singhal

Published on: 2013 by Half Baked Beans
Pages: 204
Source: Received Review Copy.


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? What’s her intention with the biography she is planning? What shall be the fate of Naazani Singh Shekhawat aka Nazaqat?

My Thoughts

When the author contacted me with a review request the first thing that I noticed was the cover- it's so beautiful, simply exquisite. But what caught my full attention was "Will prostitution be legalized?" This is something that people in India never talk openly and here we get a whole book with a prostitute's story (WOW). 

Finally I got to read Nazaqat's story.

The story starts in the year 2030 where Naazani is a successful entrepreneur and has announced her decision to file a petition to legalize prostitution in India which has created a lot of ruckus in media. Now people are hungry for her blood. But that doesn't bother her, she had already made arrangements to live forever by hiring Mathews to write her story. 

"... I will live; through this book, forever." 

Mathews happily agreed to write the book as he had his own list of questions. Why she choose prostitution? Why is she trying to legalize it? What happened on that drastic night? Who is the real culprit behind the death of (a character)? etc.etc.
Mathews enthusiastically begins recording her story as Naazani delves into her past. Into Nazaqat's story. 

While following Nazaqat's journey we meet a lonely little girl Naazani, a caring n loving friend Naez and an independent woman Nazaqat. Don't assume that I am talking about three different women instead I am talking about three different personas of the same woman. 

Naazani was a lonely little girl from a small town of Dehradun who spent her childhood with no friends and in not so family like environment. She didn't had anyone with whom she could talk about anything and everything ('the forbidden questions of puberty'). So there came a time when Google became her only asylum to get her answers. And in her own words:

"... Internet became her family, Google her Best-friend. It had answers to all her silly and mature questions."

As time passed Naazani perfected the art of flirting and with her shifting to big city Delhi she morphed into Naez, made friends and overcame her shyness. Naez was an open minded, modern girl who liked to take her own decisions and was an amazing friend. Her friends include- bubbly n supportive Dilli girl Priyanka, restless n gay fashion designer Ishank and Biplab the guy who was madly in love with her. But Naez didn't do commitment. According to her:

"There are two overrated things in the world Mathews. While one of them is love, surprisingly the other is education."

And then there comes Nazaqat. After a meeting with Sharat and a series of events Naez decides to become Nazaqat and takes up prostitution as profession on her own will. Her friends show complete support but Priyanka and Biplab also keep trying to persuade Naez to kill Nazaqat (leave prostitution). Nazaqat was the most beautiful girl, she had every other man at her feet. Nazaqat is a strong, Independent women but she her ego which made her do brutal things.

"A Slut is just a woman with morals of a man."

The story is nicely woven. Author has fabricated a captivating plot and used beautiful words (there were several quotes that I wanted to mark). I liked the way story unfolded- with each chapter focusing on one singular topic, like her relationship with each characters and other important aspects. The characters are simple and unique with their own distinct voices. This book contained a good amount of drama and had several instances which remind us the harsh realities of our world. The slow build up towards the fateful night creates a right amount of suspense to keep the readers mind occupied. The best part was the climax. I never saw that coming, it was brilliant, a work of total genius. Highlight of the book was the poem "An Ode to the Mermaid", each stanza before every chapter perfectly complemented the progressing plot.
Personally I felt that there were few loose ends. Like we don't know much about her fathers reaction, what happened between the friends after the bizarre court-case? and lastly I really wanna know how she acquired her father's money. Also I felt that at few instances the story was not strong enough to keep me glued to the book

Overall it was an awesome experience to know Nazaqat, her powerful words and her world. And I think everyone should visit it at-least once. 

4 out of 5

*I was provided a copy by the author for reviewing purpose. All the thoughts mentioned here are non-partial and my own.

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