The theme of crime, investigation and intriguing mysteries have been very popular when it comes to the choice of themes to be read. We have had great classics apart from the contemporary authors (writing on such themes), who are a great hit with the readers. It is not without a grain of truth when Vishal Bhardwaj writes in the foreword of the book ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’: “Crime is juicier than spirituality. Guns are more attractive than roses.”
The words like gang wars, mafia etc. are on everybody’s lips with nefarious activities becoming an every other day affair, especially in cities like Mumbai that is considered to be the den of such deeds. Do the names of Gangubai, Jenabai or Ashraf alias Sapna ring a bell? If not, that means you have not been through S.Hussain Zaidi’s book ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Gangland’.
‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’ is a book of thirteen factual stories about mafia queens who are prostitution ringleaders, black marketers or trained assassins. The book boasts of a foreword by Vishal Bhardwaj and gives the feeling of a film-script. It is indeed a pulpy fiction that gives the reader a full chance to enjoy the twisted tales with surprise turn of events. ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’ is the second book authored by S.Hussain Zaidi, a veteran journalist by profession. While work of fiction like Chetan Bhagat’s books are fit masala for Bollywood, these true stories too are promising ones for Bollywood pulp. They have all that it takes to be success story. The narration is so gripping that at places the reader tends to forget that the work is produce of careful investigation and reporting. All bits of information have been assembled together by the author, S.Hussain Zaidi, who also penned ‘Black Friday’ (also made into a film by Anurag Kashyap). Zaidi has a lot of experience of working with ‘Asian Age’ and ‘Deccan Chronicle’. The original research for these stories was done by Jane Borges.
There are a lot many brilliant turn of events from the plot, where the reader’s attention and concentration is focussed towards the book. There is the story of Ashraf. Her husband is shot dead in a fake encounter at the behest of Dawood. She determines to avenge her husband’s murder but with a sudden twist she is unable to do so. The basic twist lies in the title itself, just because the stories are about women and not the popularly known con men. It is a discovery that some women were so powerful inspite of the fact they were living in a world that was dominated by men.
Monica Bedi’s story might seem unconvincing to a few readers. It is already a well known fact that Monica Bedi was Abu Salem’s girlfriend. We have an amazing story of Neeta Naik. It was she who had made her husband join the underworld. Later on he was shot at and paralysed. That was not all, she also forced her husband to leave the country. Finally, he hired goons to get his wife killed.
Overall, the book was an interesting reading. Apart from that it also provided an insight into the role played by the powerful but lesser known women in this ‘gangland’ called Mumbai (that has been the capital of smuggling, gun-running, drugs, terrorism etc. for decades now). We have in ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’ a remarkable piece of research and investigative journalism.