PLOT: 3/5 CHARACTERS: 3/5 WRITING: 3/5 CLIMAX: 3.5 ENTERTAINMENT: 2.5/5
One book that I can’t wait to read this year is Ruta Sepetys’s Out of Easy, which follows the story of a seventeen-year-old girl, who is a sex worker’s daughter and wishes to get out of the clutches of the world which her mother inhabits. Incidentally, I came upon another book that promises a similar story of hope and dreams. Anuj Tikku’s Kranti: Ab Ek Sex Worker Ki Beti Banegi Ek Police Officer narrates a story that is set in the heart of Mumbai’s abandoned mill district. Read on to know more about my thoughts on the book, and about my experience of reading it.
What to expect?
Expect a short read that is just over fifty pages. Expect a book that tells us a rag-to-riches kind of a story. Expect a book that sheds some necessary light on the ugly realities of the sex trade. Expect a book that narrates the story of a brave woman who dares to dream big.
Who can read?
The English is simple and can be easily read by a beginner-level reader. There is a generous use of vernacular Hindi in the dialogues which might make it difficult for non-Hindi readers. Further, the subject and the content make the book infeasible for underage readers.
Nayana is a woman born in abject poverty. The eldest girl in her family, she is sold off to a middleman for a paltry sum of five thousand rupees. Destiny brings her to the Kotha of the famous Buddho Bai in Lal Nagar of Mumbai. The kotha becomes the place where she is initiated into the world of flesh trade and where prostitution becomes her future.
Into this ugly world is born Kranti, the daughter of Nayana, a girl whose dreams and aspirations are much bigger than the prospects of a brothel. Inspired by crime fiction, she hopes of becoming a police officer. But between her reality and her dreams is a long path trodden with struggles, challenges, and hurdles that she must overcome to fulfill her destiny.
Will Kranti grow up to be a police officer?
Which are the forces working against her?
Who are these people who want to see her initiated into the trade of her mother?
How will she face these insurmountable challenges?
How good is the writing?
Some of the things that stand out in Anuj’s writing are – getting the backdrop right, ample use of vernacular to amplify the ambiance, and attention to detail. Whether it is the background of the Lal Nagar locality or the dusty rooms of the Kotha, whether it is the backstory of the main character Nayana or details about the benevolent Parsi book dealer – Anuj pays attention to detail and is able to paint a vivid picture of his characters and settings.
Despite that, there are certain areas where the book underscores. These have been mentioned in the subsequent paragraphs.
Let’s talk about the characters
In Kranti: Ab Ek Sex Worker Ki Beti Banegi Ek Police Officer, we see a diverse range of characters, each with their own dynamic personalities and quirks. The good thing is that most of these characters are not one-dimensional. Instead, they embody a wide variety of emotions and sentimentalities. Sometimes they are meek, sometimes strong. Sometimes honest and upright, but at other times, cunning and shrewd. Some of them also undergo transformations and a massive change of heart.
A different portrayal
One thing that sets the book apart from many similar books is that in Kranti, we see a different and nuanced portrayal of sex workers. For example, the character of Nayana is much different from the usual sex workers seen in other books or movies. In Kranti, Nayana comes into the trade of her own accord. She comes from a life of abject poverty where, being the eldest sibling, she is sold off to feed the mouths of her 5 younger siblings. She is not tricked, not kidnapped, not stolen. She knows where she is going and, in a way, has accepted her fate.
How good is the climax?
The climax is neither bad nor good. It is a mediocre one that manages to give a decent conclusion to the story of Kranti, but at the same time, doesn’t manage to shine. It is also quite predictable.
A peek into the world of sex workers
Kranti: Ab Ek Sex Worker Ki Beti Banegi Ek Police Officer offers a realistic peek into the world of sex workers. The realities of their life right from their unfortunate and forced beginnings, their initiation into the trade, to their pathetic living and working conditions. It offers us a brutally vivid portrayal of the life of these unfortunate women.
What I didn’t like?
The biggest flaw of the book is its editing. There are many mistakes in the book, enough to significantly impact the reading experience. Not just grammatical errors, there are simple errors too. For example, the character of Nayana has three different spellings throughout the book – Nayana, Nayna, and Nayan. Also, there are many issues concerning the use of commas and other punctuation.
What did I like?
The book talks of a strong woman character who, despite all odds against her, manages to make a name for herself, and achieve what she has always wanted to. This, for me, is one of the strongest points of the book.
What could have been better?
The story is very linear. It follows a linear path and a cliché and predictable timeline. A lot more work needs to be done on developing some side plots, introducing some mysterious angles, shrouding some of the characters in layers of mystery, and making the book fast-paced and more interesting.
Who shouldn’t read?
The language used in Kranti is crass and vulgar depending upon the circumstances. Someone averse to the use of such crude language should not read the book. Also, the content is not suitable for underage readers, so I strongly suggest that readers below eighteen years of age should not pick this up.
In the end
In the end, Kranti narrates the story of an underprivileged life that despite numerous challenges and a future that looks bleak, manages to rise and shine in life. It is a promising story of hope, dreams, and destiny which shows how inspiration can come from the unlikeliest of places.
Pick the book if
- If you are looking for a short read (just over 50 pages).
- If you enjoy inspiring stories of strong women.
- If you don’t mind editing mistakes.
Skip the book if
- If grammatical and editing errors put you off.
- If you are looking for a five-star entertainer.
Other books that talk about sex workers and prostitution
Over the years, I have enjoyed many books that have been written on the subject of sex workers and the sex trade. Some of my favorite amongst these include Nalini Jameela’s The Autobiography of a Sex Worker, Caitlin Spencer’s Please, Let Me Go, Mayank Austen Soofi’s Nobody Can Love You More, and Deepak Yadav’s Daughters of the Brothels.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Kranti: Ab Ek Sex Worker Ki Beti Banegi Ek Police Officer using the link below.