BANGALORE: Nazaqat is a carefully woven story about a comely girl Naazani who, in a series of events, gets ensnared in the web of prostitution. She goes on to become one of the most successful escorts in the city. But she is embittered by the seediness of prostitution — police raids, betrayal, evil, greed, lust etc. And terrified about the state of her 'profession,' she sets out to better it by fighting for its legalisation, maneuvering through drama, action, power battles, what not.
But the book does not just lend a voice to Naazani, who narrates the story of millions of young girls who are driven to prostitution for myriad reasons.
This book, written by Harsh Agarwal (who goes by the pseudonym, Sasha H Singhal), also addresses grave issues of feminism and homosexuality that are prevalent in our society.
Here’s the excerpt of an interview with the author How it all started
I have been writing since I was in school but it was mostly poetry. I wrote as it was a way to express myself. I had never pictured myself writing novels. The urge to write a novel was born out of my enthusiasm to tell out-of-the-box stories. So far, I have authored three books — Life in a Nutshell, An excursion of Insight and now, Nazaqat.
How Nazaqat was born
The idea was to create a very powerful female character who was against all kinds of stereotyping. The concept was to present a woman in a radical manner. Keeping this in mind, I developed a plot about a girl who chooses prostitution and later fights to legalise it in India.
The detailing and intricacies of a book can't be worked upon without proper research. So research for me was extremely crucial. I read a lot of books on the subject and watched a lot of movies. I read blogs written by sex workers, subscribed to newsletters, and spoke to a few who showed interest. But not many were willing to meet me in person to give their inputs for the story. The high-profile escorts were also very discreet. So it was tougher to get in touch with them.
Advice for aspiring writers
Stop hurrying and stop writing for the sake of getting published. Wait to fall in love with an idea and devote yourself to it. Also try not to chase big publishing houses. Opt for the up-and-coming ones who know the business and are passionate about their work.
I am not writing anything new at the moment. I will be focusing more on mentoring young authors and editing books.