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Tea Leaves

Revenge of the courtesan

Young Indians seek validation in tales of the 'tawaifs'

Nautch girl dancing with musicians accompanying in Calcutta, India. (Courtesy of Library of Congress)

Alternatively shunned and romanticized by Indian society, tawaifs -- also called courtesans, dancing girls or prostitutes -- are making a comeback in Indian media and literature. A raft of new books such as "Tawaifnama" by Saba Dewan and "Faint Promise of Rain" by Anjali Mitter Duva is reminding readers how much Bollywood -- and India -- owe to these storied entertainers.

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