BY ARTI DAS | NT NETWORK
...says journalist cum writer Sonia Faleiro who recently launched her second book, ‘Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars.’ She was here in Goa to promote her book. ‘The Navhind Times’ caught up with her to know more about her book and her journey as a writer
Sonia Faleiro is busy autographing her new book titled, ‘Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars’ during the Goa launch at the Sunaparanta Goa Centre for the Arts, Panaji.
She is all excited about her new book as it is not only her first non-fiction work but also a product born out of five year’s of research. While speaking about the book she confesses that it was the journalist within her that made this book possible. “I thought of writing on bar girls when the Maharashtra government banned around 1500 bars. The result was that 75,000 bar dancers were left unemployed. In those days I used to work for the Tehelka magazine in Mumbai” states Sonia who believes this ban was uncalled for, under the name of morality.
Sonia’s book is a narrative non-fiction about a charismatic bar dancer named Leela and many like her. Sonia spent three years visiting these places and two years writing about them. She confirmed that by banning these bars the state government took away the economic freedom and safety of these bar dancers.
She also confirmed that the main and primary source of income for these bar dancers was dancing. “I observed at these dance bars the guys were not allowed to talk or interact with these dancers. These young girls, dressed like Bollywood stars, only danced. If any of them worked as sex workers, it was out of their own choice. The percentage of dance bar girls working as sex workers was small,” confirms Sonia.
When asked whether it was difficult for her to interact with these girls, Sonia explains that they accepted her quite easily - “They were aware that I was writing about them. But, they still allowed me into their world because I am non-judgmental, honest.”
Sonia also had to maintain balance as she made a point without getting carried away. “Yes, I had to maintain that balance as sometimes I used to feel helpless and couldn’t change anything. But, then it is a common problem journalists’ face. There is a huge gap between our lives and that of the people we interact with or interview,” laments Sonia who has fulfilled her role and now also hopes that her writing will hep bridge this gap.
Sonia who started her career with ‘India Today’ magazine believes that her transition from a journalist to writer was not so difficult. “It was not difficult for me as I knew exactly what I wanted to tell,” states Sonia who is currently the contributing editor to ‘Vogue’.
She also confirms that this book and all the experiences that came with it changed her life. “The devastation which I saw was overwhelming and completely heart breaking” she says on a more sober note.
Sonia who was born in Goa, studied in Edinburgh, worked in Delhi and Mumbai is now settled in San Francisco (USA). However, she loves to come down to India as it is a place where she connects and gets inspired to write. “It is just a year that I moved to San Francisco but I have come down many times. Now I am planning to focus on non-fiction and will write something that is related to India and that’s the reason I coming back in the month of January. I believe life is a process of studying new things. And I am just doing that,” she says as she signs off.