Book Review: Mumbaistan

Entry no. #4Debut Indian Writers Month: October 2012

Part of Debut Indian Writers Challenge and South Asian Challenge 2012

Title: Mumbaistan
Author: Piyush Jha
Publisher: Rupa Publications
ISBN: 978-81-291-2017-5
Pages: 239
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3 of 5
Reviewed for: Rupa Publications

This review is honored to be part of the official page of the book.

Image: Piyush Jha

Image: Piyush Jha

A crime thriller based in the underbelly of Mumbai by a Bollywood director! Can the entertainment be away? Ekta Kapoor rightly says on the cover, “Entertainment, Entertainment and Entertainment” and that is exactly what Piyush Jha’s debut book is. Ad Maker and Film Director Piyush Jha brings’ his love and indulgence for Mumbai alive on pulp in this three crime thriller novella collection.

Mumbaistan brings to the reader three novellas enshrined in crime, playing out on the mean streets of Mumbai.

The book starts with ‘Bomb Day’ where a prostitute, her lover and an ATS ACP indulge in mouse and cat play with each other with the ACP engaging the small time gangster lover to act it out with the prostitute to get her ex-lover, a sleeping cell Pakistani terrorist to come out and walk into the ACP’s hands. Easy enough plot till the Pakistanis turn the game. The second novella ‘Injectionwala’ deals with the unfortunate instances we see in news every now and then, when lifesavers – demigods in our society – doctors, cross over to the other side. This story has an intern doctor in love with the doctor daughter of his medical college’s dean, a kidney racket, the conspirators in the racket getting killed by an animal poison administered through injections and an inspector with feeble background but good ground connections investigating the murders. The last story ‘Coma Man’ is about a man reviving out of coma after twenty years, with recollection of his name, his wife’s name and her birthday only. He sets out to find her with flashes of his memory returning about a burnt company, a religious mob attack, a savior manager, a mysterious attack on the head while dealing with a local corporater, a local gangster and the police.

Piyush starts off with a bang in the first story, slugs through the second and hits the zenith with the third. All the three novellas have love stories at the heart and how a ‘sacred’ emotion can drive three men differently is the point the book drives home. Also common in all the three apart from Mumbai and crime are women; the raison d’être of the narration surging ahead, the background strength and also the climax heroes. You understand why the cover of the book has the silhouette of a man holding a gun with Mumbai’s famous landmarks in the background, the spine of the book has a girl holding a gun. Once you are on the acknowledgements page of the book you realize why is she placed on the spine.

My pick of the lot is the ‘Coma Man’- this novella has everything – love, betrayal, suspense, violence, despair and heroism – the true entertainer. Piyush Jha told me in a recent interview that Mumbaistan – the movie is on the anvil, I hope it is this story. ‘Bomb Day’ had the conventional police-prostitute-gangster angle but the climax makes up for all the regular-ness while in ‘Injectionwala’ the suspense factor is missing the author balances it out with the psychological angle to the story including the incessant sex scenes.

There is casual spewing of Hindi terms throughout the book but luckily it never looks deliberate and gels well with the theme of the book. One noteworthy fact in the narration is the detailing of the author’s muse – Mumbai – he knows her well; every nook, every curve.

Inspite of a few typos, it is a brisk weekend/ travel read and proves Ekta Kapoor very much right in her views about the book – It is entertainment, bollywood bhai style. You also travel to a Mumbai in this word journey that you or me normally would not, if we can help it!

Happy Reading.

Watch the Words:

Read sample chapters from Mumbaistan

Thank you Piyush Jha for sending me a signed copy and yes I did like it! Read him inKonversation with me.

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