Friday, December 9, 2011

Mafia Queens of Mumbai : Stories of Women from the Ganglands by S. Hussain Zaidi with Jane Borges

Title: Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Gangland
Author: S.Hussain Zaidi (with Jane Borges)
Publisher: Tranquebar
Pages: 290
Genre: Non Fiction / Crime
Rating: 10 /10

Source: Review Copy (from BlogAdda)

Vishal Bhardwaj begins his foreword with “Crime is juicier than spirituality”. And isn’t it so? I read an article somewhere recently (as Bharadwaj also laments) about the dearth of literature on crime in India, something on the lines of ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote. Incidentally, I recently found a new book, which deals with the Neeraj Grover Murder case called ‘Death in Mumbai’ by Meenal Baghel.

To digress a little more from the book, I recently read an article here that says how unimaginative the word ‘Non Fiction’ is. It does total injustice to the talented lot of writers who do not dwell in fictitious stories and yet create nothing short of excellent pieces of literature. Why bunch them all together in a highly non-creative word called ‘Non Fiction’? It takes away from the whole effort.

Finally coming back to the book, it is an outstanding and fascinating book – in its unusual subject, extensive research, deft story-telling and engaging pace. The cover page is highly apt and sets the mood for the book. I finished it in 4.5 hours flat.

S. Hussain Zaidi (who has also written the exceptional ‘Black Friday’) alongwith Jane Borges, creates vivid imagery of 13 women who enjoyed a lot of clout in the Mumbai mafia.

Though little known to the general public, unlike their several infamous male counterparts, these women have been singled out for their close involvement with underworld or power enjoyed by them. From wives and girlfriends of Dons to a Bollywood starlet, from a much sought-after bar dancer to women fueled by their ambition – each story reads like a movie script. The fact that the stories of these women are not easy to piece together, since little has been known about them, it makes the authors’ efforts far more commendable.

Following are glimpses of 13 women featured in this book:

  • Jenabai –known for her closeness with the underworld dons Vardharajan, Karim Lala and Haji Mastan, and she was quite sought after for her advice.
  • Gangubai – a girl who ran away from her small village, goes on to become the much-respected matriarch of Kamathipura – the red light area of Mumbai
  • Ashraf or Sapna didi -  a wife who did not have any knowledge about her husband’s underworld connection till he gets killed in an encounter, trains herself with single-minded determination to take on the people responsible for his death
  • Jyoti Amma and Mahalaxmi Papamani – Poverty and responsibility of taking care of family lead them into drug peddling, and over time they became powerful
  • Monica Bedi – Her closeness with a Dubai business, who was actually Abu Salem, got her into the wrong side of the law, and she paid the price heavily
  • Asha Gawli, Neeta Naik, , Sujata Nikhalje, Padma Poojary – Wives of Hindu Dons who went on to handle the place of their husbands while they were absconding
  • Mrs Paul, Rubina Siraj Sayyed – Girlfriends and associates of Chhota Shakeel
  • Tarannum Khan – the most (in)famous bar dancer who minted a lot of money in cricket betting
  • Archana Sharma – a Ram Leela artiste from Ujjain becomes  a hardcore criminal, responsible for kidnapping, extortion and murder
It is definitely an interesting book, for who is not fascinated by the many stories of the underworld. Several movies have been scripted over the years, and it would continue to be portrayed on the celluloid with as much interest and drama.

It is definitely a must read for all book lovers, and I would go on to say that it would also appeal to people who like Fiction. After all, these are also stories, only real!

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

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1 comment:

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