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Archive for December 2013

dtdName: Dongri To Dubai: Six Decades of The Mumbai Mafia

Author:  S. Hussain Zaidi

Genre : Non Fiction

Pages : 408

Publication Year: May 25th 2012

Is Review Spoiler: No

 Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)


From ‘Once upon a time in Mumbai’ to ‘Shootout at Lookandvala’ till ‘Shootout at Waadala’ – Bollywood is/was always fascinated about  ‘Mumbai Mafia’ or ‘Mumbai Underworld’.  But there is always a huge difference between the Reel World and Real World – you will realize what’s that huge difference is once you start reading this book.

First of all – I would like to congratulate Mr  S. Hussain Zaidi for writing such a  intensely researched  book which is not an easy task and that too on Mumbai Underworld. He has done great job detailing six decades of Mumbai Mafia from the rise and fall of Haji Mastan and Pathans till the rise of Dawood Ibrahim.

This book follows the events of Mumbai Mafia since it’s inception before/after Independence to current day. What I liked most in this book compared to other non-fiction books of same genre is – this books follows the events in proper order and focusing on all major players including their family background, their lives in Mumbai, their struggle and lot many things – including what caused these bad boys to actually become bad boys.

Mr  S. Hussain Zaidi took seven years to research on this books before penning it down. You will find all the reference at the end of book and everything is authentic and well researched.

The book start from the year 1950 – detailing the Mumbai back in 50’s and the Bombay (in 50’s it was called Bombay) back in 50’s was way different from what shown in Bollywood movies. Bombay was/is a Jadoyi Nagari/Sapnaon Ki Nagari – back then also people used to come to Mumbai for improving their livelihood.  But soon these guys realized that it’s not that easy to get settled in Mumbai without proper education and good family background . The easiest way for these guys were back then was smuggling of imported watches and transistors in order to avoid import duty – from here it all began – the Inception of Mumbai Mafia.

The best thing about this book is – it flows like movies even being a non-fiction book and most the dialogue is in the Hindi and that too in bhai logaon ke style me – boletu ek dam jakkas (no worries if you don’t know Hindi – author has translated these dialogues into English in brackets). You will read the biography of many gangsters of Mumbai in this book including Haji Mastan, Karim Lala, Varadarajan Mudaliar, Chhota Rajan, Abu Salem and last but not least – Dawood Ibrahim – a young man who went astray despite having a father in the police force.

Before this book – everyone used to hear about only one side of the story  from police and media and no one knew about the other side. This book fills the void – here you will read the story of that side of Mumbai which no one tried before Zaidi to pen it down.

As author says:

This story is primarily about how a boy from Dongri became a don in Dubai, and captures his bravado, cunningness,focus, ambition, and lust for power in a gripping narrative.

but along with the story of the boy who become the don in Dubai – this book also covers the story of many other gangsters – some of which appeared in Bollywood movies like shootout at wadala, shootout at lokhandwala and Once Upon a Time in Mumbai.

Overall – the book is extremely fast-paced, intensely researched and it reads like a thriller. I will recommend this book to everyone who wants to know the story of darker side of our society and why it’s so dark out there?

Sycamore RowName: Sycamore Row

Author:  John Grisham

Genre : Legal thriller

Pages : 400+

Publication Year: October 22, 2013

Is Review Spoiler: No

 Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)


Sycamore Row is a sequel to a best selling novel ‘A Time to Kill‘ from acclaimed author ‘John Grisham’ . A Time to Kill was the first novel from John Grisham which was published way back in 1989. You can find the review of ‘A Time to Kill’ – here.

The plot in Sycamore Row – revolves around a white man named Seth Hubbard, who is dying due to lung cancer and doctors have given him one months time and who is also filthy rich. Set Hubbard writes a  holographic will which invalidates the will which was previously prepared by big law firm in Tulpedo – in which he has distributed his wealth between his tow children – Ramona and Herschel.

Now in newly created holographic will he gives away 90% his wealth to his black maid – Lettie Lang, 5% to church and 5% to his brother Ancil Hubbard – whose whereabouts no one knows. We know the Ford County from A Time to Kill – which has many people who still believe racism, Klan and white supremacy kind of things which people used to do in 70’s and 80’s.

Grisham hasn’t visited his most famous character Jake Brigance for almost  24 years, now after 24 years Jake is back in action again who by now feels like very old friend from ancient time. Here we also meet the most funniest lawyer Harry Rex and Jake’s mentor Lucien. Like other Grisham novels, this novel too has many twist and turn to keep the reader hooked till the end.

Twist here involves the suicide of the wealthy white man ‘Set Hubbard’ – who before hanging himself on a sycamore tree writes a holographic will in which he gives 90% his wealth to the black maid ‘Lettie Lang’. Very next day after his suicide Jake receives an envelope containing a hand written will and a letter addressed to Jake – in which Seth instruct Jake to defend his holographic will at all costs. He writes in a letter to Jake saying “These are not nice people and they will fight, so get ready,” he warns. “Fight them, Mr. Brigance, to the bitter end.”

Jake has to defend this holographic will created by Seth who is in lot of pain due to lung cancer and hanged himself, Jake has to defend this will at all costs as instructed by Seth himself. The dilemma now Jake facing is – he knows for sure that this will be contested by Ramona and Herschel and it will be trial by jury.  If Jake wins the case – then Lettie will become the riches black person in Ford County – but the Ford County of 1988 which is kind of racist is not about let it happen. Jake has to do something and that something has to be more than what he has done in Carl Lee trial three years ago.

All of a sudden a quiet, racist, Ford County is in news again and again for same contextual reasons – a fight between black and white. All top white lawyers are now in Ford County to represent Ramona and Herschel  and most famous black lawyer – who is most hated by white folks is in to represent Lettie Lang and Ford County is all set for one more big fight.

Jake knows that one bad move by him or Lattie Lang will destroy the case – now the coming of the black lawyer ‘Booker Sistrunk’ changes the game because he is the most hated lawyer by white folks and Ford County has majority of white folks and there is 90% chances that jury for this trial will be  ‘all white’ – in situations like this and in 1988’s Ford County bringing in ‘Booker Sistrunk’ will result in huge damages to the trial. Jake has to find a way to get rid of this guy and he has to find it quicker!

In this first novel – A Time to Kill, the beginning was most disturbing and heartbreaking when Tonya -Carl Lee’s daughter was brutally raped and beaten by two white racist red necks and in Sycamore Row the ending is most disturbing and heartbreaking when everyone come to know the actual reason ‘why Seth Hubbard has  given all his wealth to black maid Lettie Lang’.

As usual character development and the twist and turns and plot development is just awesome. Grisham know how to tell a story which will captivate the reader till the end and leaves him wanting more.

orientName: Murder on the Orient Express

Author: Agatha Christie

Genre : Crime novel

Pages : 256+

Publication Year: 1 January 1934

Is Review Spoiler: No

 Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)


Murder on the Orient Express is certainly the most famous Agatha Christie novel, the story is beautifully crafted murder mystery which definitely ranks among the top of the Agatha Christie murder mysteries.

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.

Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.

The death has occurred in a manner that will implicate one of the twelve passengers of Orient Express and the murderer is in train because due to snow drift, the train has stopped when murder took place.

Having nothing to do in train and being experienced in solving similar crimes, Hercule Poirot takes the case. He interviews all the twelve passengers one by one. interestingly all the suspects have the cast-iron alibis. As no one boarded the train and no on left the train and everyone have cast-iron alibis – the case seems impossible to solve, until Hercule Poirot uses his little grey cells to solve once more the seemingly insoluble murder mystery. Mrs Christie makes an improbable tale very real, and keeps her readers enthralled and guessing to the end.

Murder On The Orient Express is not like any other Agatha Christie books, the plot is ingeniously crafted, character development awesome and this book is filled with lots of twists and turns which will keep readers on the edge of their seats. The train setting is great, suspects are limited, reader will be given all the facts and evidence and everything you need to solve a murder mystery – you just has to sit and think. Even though you sit and think for hours, I am sure you won’t guess who the murder is!

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