Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mumbaistan book review: Love, loss and vengeance culminate into a gripping crime thriller

Film director and first time novelist Piyush Jha wields his pen to come out with ‘Mumbaistan: 3 explosive crime thrillers’ to give the modern day reader three Mumbai-based crime tales- ‘Bomb Day’, ‘Injectionwala’ and ‘Coma Man’. Here is a brief review:

Story number 1: The book opens explosively with ‘Bomb Day’, a crime thriller revolving around an ACP’s mission to capture a terrorist. ACP Hani can be stern, brutal and even fanatic about his obsession of foiling the plans of Aalamzeb, the Pakistani terrorist who has his own devious arrangement of bombing the city. Based entirely on the pulsating city of Mumbai, ‘Bomb Day’ takes you through its various nooks & corners including the paan-stained and urine-stenched bylanes where life takes a different turn once midnight comes calling. Tanvir Khanzada plays the protagonist and assists ACP Hani in his secretive plans. Rabia Bano is a prostitute and another important character in the plot. To an extent, Rabia forms the backbone of the shrewd ACP’s plans as the murky business of prostitution combines with a man-woman intimacy to give birth to a tale of love! The love story between Tanvir and Rabia makes for a pleasant and heart-tugging read. But there is more to it than what meets the eye. Will this ‘love’ help the ACP capture the eluding terrorist? Or will there be a twist in the tale?
While the language is lucid and the narrative quite enjoyable, it is the climax where the readers get jolted out of their cozy armchairs! This story, with its subtext of romance in the backdrop, can be perfectly enjoyed and appreciated even by those who are not into the crime genre. It is a definite must-read!

Story number 2: The second of the three crime thrillers, titled ‘Injectionwala’, is a tale of vengeance carried out by Dr. Porus Udwadia towards the people involved in the atrocious kidney racket business. Although, he starts out by taking a personal revenge for the death of his father, he is egged on by his girlfriend Dr. Saakshi to slay off all the people associated with this heinous crime. He goes about his business by injecting a fatal drug into the veins of his victims. Even though masked before the society and broadly known as the ‘injectionwala’, who becomes more like a national hero, his activities get discovered by a suspended police officer Virkar. However, Virkar stays silent as he witnesses the dramatic climax unfolding before his eyes. The story is written in a refreshing manner with crisp language and an engaging quality. There is a fair bit of sexual act involved as Porus and Saakshi are almost always bedding each other. The ending comes as a chilling shock and even though justice is served, it comes in the form of an intriguing ‘kiss’.
Jha brilliantly takes a chapter from the real-life crime world and weaves it into a thrilling story complemented with a nail-biting suspense. Some readers may be able to guess the last-minute twist in the tale but a bittersweet climax promises dropping jaws.

Story number 3: ‘Coma Man’, the third of the stories, is more of a man’s personal journey to self-discovery when he wakes up from coma after almost 2 decades. The story is akin to a road journey as the protagonist Samir Khanna travels haplessly and lonely through the various nooks and corners of Mumbai (a city which he now fails to recognize owing to its modern makeover) searching for his identity and his wife Bahaar. In the process, he bumps into Raghu Nadar, a municipal councilor, who has a keen and personal interest on this man for a past tragedy which they both share. Samir, widely believed to be dead by most, slowly regains his memory (albeit in sudden flashes) and discovers a horrific secret towards the end. The climax is poignant and one which will make you feel for the ‘coma man’. Once again, there is a compelling quality about this story as Jha tugs at the reader’s emotional side to tell a tale of love, loss, crime and vengeance.

All the 3 crime thrillers have a different story to tell with Mumbai being the only thread connecting them. The protagonists are well chalked out with a touch of vulnerability, hint of emotion and zeal to fight against all odds. An acclaimed Bollywood film director, Piyush Jha clearly showcases his writing abilities through his very 1st novel. Going by its cover page and its title, some people may not pick it up if crime is not their cup of tea. But that would clearly be a big, big mistake!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cuddling the kangaroo: A dream waiting to be fulfilled

Rome has history, Paris has romance, Thailand has culture and Africa has wildlife! But if I were to go to a place, it would be Australia.

“Mom, look, it’s so cute! It’s still a baby, though” I gushed.
“Don’t go too close to it,” my mom chided me.
“No mom, I want to cuddle it,” I ran towards the baby kangaroo and lifted it in my arms. It flapped its arms and leapt out of my hands and hopped away towards its mother.
I opened my eyes. (Ah, it was such a sweet dream; one that has been haunting me since I first heard about Australia being the land of the kangaroos.). Will the dream ever come true? Will I ever make it to Australia in my next remaining life or will they be as Australia-free as my last 26 years have been?
So, I was thinking of heading to this dream destination in the southern part of the planet (I remember once a classmate from my old school had gloatingly explained how Australia celebrates its Christmas in summer because of its southern geographical location). But, alas, I don’t have that much money right now to make my fantasy come true. So, I had planned to make weekly investments in lottery tickets (yes, given the vast number of permutations & combinations, the probability of my winning the 1st prize is as low as the batting average of Glenn McGrath). But, I think I should seriously consider this option!
And then comes the news that IndiBlogger (my favorite thing in the world) has organized a competition which will take me to Melbourne, if I win (But OMG, the competition is getting scarier with every passing day)!
Now, they have put forth a difficult question in the contest! I mean, what do they mean by ‘what would you like to bring back from Melbourne’? I mean I would want to bring back the whole of Melbourne (and given our geographical area, I am sure that it will easily fit into our country) but well, since I can’t do that (the Australian public would kill me), there are some fond memories that I am sure I can afford to carry back.
I haven’t been to Melbourne (not yet), but I have heard a lot (from that boastful classmate of mine) and have read a lot (in lots of places). So, I know what to expect from this place! Let’s first put our attention to MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) which is a must-visit for a cricket-greedy persons like me. And this website tells me that there is an enchanting National Sports Museum which must not be missed (not unless, you wish to commit sporting blasphemy). Skiing is another thing I am looking forward to. It has always interested me (I mean it looks so inviting when we watch it on films). But will I be able to ski? Nevertheless, even if I fall off recurrently, I will happily lap up the euphoria that this snow-crested Victoria is promising me!
I don’t want to waste away my time inside the hotels (even though these Melbourne hotels are going to be a thoroughly luxuriously pampering experience). Like any average tourist, I am thirstily hungry to do some Melbourne sightseeing. The esteemed and friendly-looking website (which I linked above) further informs me that there are countless attractions in the city. Apart from MCG (I had read a few years back that it’s one of the two favorite venues of Sachin Tendulkar, now don’t ask me which is the second one), there is the Healesville Sanctuary (where I plan to cuddle koalas and kangaroo babies, no matter how much my mom chides), National Gallery of Victoria (Aw, I love paintings and art works, even though I can hardly draw anything of my own), Melbourne Aquarium (finally, I can look at what goes around under the sea), Werribee Open Range Zoo (wild animals roaming freely in the open) and Scienceworks (one can virtually travel through space here). There are plenty of other attractions (yes, plenty) but I am feeling too lazy to write the names of all of them (that actually makes my craving level reach astronomical heights). 

I’m not a big foodie (though occasionally I do allow my belly the occasional euphoria). But Melbourne is so much full of these tempting cuisines, rich wine and delicious-looking restaurants, that even a not-so-foodie like me will spend half his holiday munching and chewing!
Speaking of shopping (and this is specially written for the women), Melbourne presents countless markets, malls and shops- all flaunting international brands and Victorian designer apparels. My wallet is all agog with excitement, waiting to be ripped open (I guess I will be much poorer by the time my trip is complete). Both my mind and my heart are screaming ‘…it's your time to visit Melbourne NOW!’ But will I or will I not, that is the question!
So, will my dream come true? Will I be able to cuddle that baby kangaroo that has made a permanent place in my dreams ever since I was a pre-teenager? (And, I have heard that there are penguins as well, waiting to be cuddled)! Will IndiBlogger give me a chance to live my dreams? Or will all my dreams get trampled by the hoard of competitors, all eyeing this Melbourne trip with a smack on their lips? If I win, I shall be ecstatic, euphoric and jumping up and down (Ah)! And if I lose, maybe I shall go back to my original idea of investing in weekly lottery draws (Oh)!
But…..I am sure one day, somewhere during the journey of my life, I shall make it to Australia and cuddle that baby kangaroo! Till then, it will have to wait…….

Rome has history, Paris has romance, Thailand has culture and Africa has wildlife! But if I were to go to a place, it would be Australia. And now you know why……….

[This post has been penned for IndiBlogger's 'it's your time to visit Melbourne NOW' contest in association with]

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