Without Prejudice is the fine line between fiction and nonfiction. What starts out as a story of a young girl in the middle of something big, beautifully unwraps, or rather blossoms, into a story of bigger scheme of things intertwined with the life of a girl. The girl is Munia, a.k.a, Pallavi Singh. She is a victim of trafficking. Impervious to this fact, and its gory reality, she is brought to Mumbai, a place so very different from her humble village. Throughout the story, many figures cross paths with her, but the only one who matters is Rajkumar.
Theirs is a relationship that neither could have intended, and theirs is the story of the two cities contained in one, Bombay and Mumbai. The inert name change that began in 1995 is spurring unrealized changes to the complexion of the city. The decade is turning, one of the few last old features of the city is also changing, affecting thousands of lives. Pallavi’s life, caught in this entropy, is shaping differently too as the entry of a mystery man beckons revelations to questions she has asked her entire life.
“…Pallavi was also there. She was sitting very quietly in a corner of the make-up room with knees pulled towards her chest and chin resting on them. She had faced similar situations before…” ;“…The police had raided the bar in search of underage and she was interrogated at length considering she had just entered the permissible age for dancing in a bar…”
Devasis, the author of this new-age romance, spins with his words a beautiful web of connected lives which deeply resonate the pulse of the metropolitan. A major part of the story are the details of the dour realities of human trafficking and the abhorrent treatment of women.
Without Prejudice begs to be read and brings forth with it the gritty world it tells the tales of- a world of women, from poor and desperate backgrounds, who are furthermore downtrodden and frowned upon by the cities.
If you sign up for a swim into and to understand the underbelly of a metropolitan, then this book awaits you. It glimpses into the harsh actualities of women’s lives in this patriarchal society and, with that, peeks into the world of erotic dancing.
“Without Prejudice: Epic Tale of a Mumbai Bar Dancer” by Devasis is available for purchase from Niyogi Books here. The author is a student of social sciences at Ambedkar University, Delhi.