Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars

Sonia Faleiro

Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars

Sonia Faleiro was a reporter in search of a story when she met Leela, a beautiful and charismatic bar dancer with a story to tell. Leela introduced Sonia to the underworld of Bombay's dance bars: a world of glamorous women, of fierce love, sex and violence, of customers and gangsters, of police, prostitutes and pimps. When an ambitious politician cashed in on a tide of false morality, and had Bombay's dance bars wiped out, Leela's proud independence faced its greatest test. In a city where almost everyone is certain that someone, somewhere, is worse off than them, she fights to survive, and to win. 4.5 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Society, Politics & Philosophy
Format Paperback
Pages 240
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication August 2011
ISBN 978-0857861696
Publisher Canongate
 

Sonia Faleiro was a reporter in search of a story when she met Leela, a beautiful and charismatic bar dancer with a story to tell. Leela introduced Sonia to the underworld of Bombay's dance bars: a world of glamorous women, of fierce love, sex and violence, of customers and gangsters, of police, prostitutes and pimps. When an ambitious politician cashed in on a tide of false morality, and had Bombay's dance bars wiped out, Leela's proud independence faced its greatest test. In a city where almost everyone is certain that someone, somewhere, is worse off than them, she fights to survive, and to win.

Reviews

The Guardian

Tishani Doshi

Brilliant … For a book that's so short, Faleiro manages to pack a lot in: pimps, gangsters, transvestites, cops and madams. But its most outstanding quality to my eye is the window it offers on the widespread sexual repression that exists in India today, and the murky middle-class morality that rules it.

29/07/2011

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The Independent

Anita Sethi

[A] tour de force of heartrending reportage ... which blends rigorous journalistic research with the narrative skills of a novelist. Faleiro depicts effects as well as excavating causes, painting a vivid portrait of the daily — and nightly — life of a dancer, as well as the factors leading Leela into that life in the first place, and showing why Bombay's dance bars were wiped out. With tight focus and pacing, she is adept at conjuring the brutal backstory of these lives.

19/08/2011

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The Sunday Times

Stanley Stewart

Beautiful Thing is the gritty documentary to Slumdog’s fairy tale ... Faleiro’s prose can sometimes be a trifle choppy and her copy editors should have been more alert. Hindi is sprinkled rather too liberally throughout the text for a non-Indian to follow with ease. But these are minor complaints in what is a tour de force of reportage, whose depth, insight and resonance make it the equal of the best fiction. It is Faleiro’s great achievement that she has portrayed the tragedy of this world without a shred of sentimentality.

24/07/2011

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The Independent on Sunday

Leyla Sanai

[Beautiful Thing] is unbearably bleak at times, but it is saved from doominess by her striking empathy, sensitivity, and sharp ear.

21/08/2011

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The Sunday Telegraph

Basharat Peer

… a meticulous, moving account of the battle for social mobility and personal freedom in Bombay … Faleiro ably explains the subculture of the bars, the lives of the bored men who frequent them, the protection rackets run by the Bombay police that allow the dance bars to function. Above all, she gives us a rich portrait of the desires, vulnerabilities and sheer resilience of Leela and her colleagues.

21/08/2011

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The Times

Kate Saunders

In a fast-paced, conversational, high-octane circumstantial style, the contradictions of Leela’s hedonistic, heartbreaking life as a badass Lolita crossed with a naively knowing Sweet Charity are thoroughly and empathetically explored. Her rich character is sparked to vivid life in a highly coloured work of brilliant literary reportage.

06/08/2011

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