Monday, December 14, 2015

Mafia Queens of Mumbai

Mafia Queens Of Mumbai: Stories Of Women From The Ganglands. You can’t have a more catchy title than that. And writers S Hussain Zaidi and Jane Borges have ensured their narration lives up to the title. From the choice of the women they have portrayed, to the racy style of writing, everything is calculated to make the book a page-turner. And though the writers claim the book is an attempt at accurate and true story-telling, they also admit they have taken literary license in places where they felt it was absolutely necessary to add drama to the story.

And so you have graphic details of a dream where Ustara, a ganglord, visualises three topless Chinese women. “I try reaching for them….They are all equally tempting…and then reach for the one whose breasts are fuller…”

Or take this voyeuristic description of a young girl, Madhu’s first-time ordeal in a brothel when a seth forces himself upon her. “He lifted her ghagra and slid his fingers between her legs, moving them slowly and repeatedly…she tried to hurt him by squeezing his penis too hard…”

One wonders from where the writers got these details. Yes, Zaidi did meet Ustara while helping novelist Vikram Chandra research for his book, Sacred Games, but is it likely that the gangster would have shared his sexual fantasies with a reporter and a writer? Even assuming he had, why did the writers feel it necessary to digress into pages about his sexual exploits, when the reason for him featuring in the book is his relationship with Sapna, the woman he trained to take on the might of Dawood?

In the young girl’s case, where did they unearth the gory particulars from, considering they couldn’t have met her as she was lucky to have been sent back to her village after this one terrifying experience, long before this book was written? Madhu is only a tiny part of a larger story, the story of Gangubai, erstwhile matriarch of Kamathipura, the notorious red-light area of Mumbai.

Gangubai may have cited the freeing of this girl as an example of her sympathetic nature but would she have narrated details of an encounter that happened so long ago?

The story of Monica Bedi, girlfriend of the notorious Abu Salem, is written as a first-person account though Monica refused to part with ‘the copyright’ of her life story.

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