Book Review: Mafia Queens of Mumbai: S. Hussain Zaidi

Having co-authored non-fiction book, I am often asked “why non-fiction”? – People who ask me this question normally do so in 2 parts:

  1. “Why did you chose to write a non-fiction book?” – And then I tell them that the reason is because I primarily read non-fiction.
  2. “So, why do you read non-fiction?” – is the obvious next question that usually follows.

My reasons for preferreing non-fiction as a genre couldn’t be represented with an example better than in the form of a book I was recently recommended by a colleague – Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories Of Women From The Ganglands. Written by S. Hussain Zaidi (author of Black Friday: The true story of the Bombay Blasts) along with Jane Borges the book contains riveting details spanning the entire crime landscape of Mumbai.

While knowledge of the “male” ganglords of the city are fairly public and commonly covered in print journalism and celluloid (the film Company, starring Ajay Devgan, being a case in point), the women of the underworld were a considerably lesser known species. Seasoned crime journalist Zaidi has conducted visibly in-depth research to come up with what can be conclusively called a ready-reckoner on the species.

From “Gangubai”, the iconic self-proclaimed but widely accepted matriarch of Kamathipura, Mumbai’s red-light area to the wives of Hindo Dons and aides of Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan, this book profiles the women who were often not at the fore of all the “action” yet had as critical a role to play as the men themselves. The bok contains 7 chapters – 6 of them dedicated to 6 stories and one of them containing a collection of really short stories (character sketches, really) of the women being discussed.

When a seasoned player like Zaidi writes on a subject, the sense of authority shows. This is one of the points that particularly interest me about non-fiction as a genre. They are usually less imaginative, and more real. They are based on fact-based research and are represented in a manner that leaves a lot to be inferred, and hence concluded, by the reader.

I would definitely give it a “read” recommendation. After all, as film-maker Vishal Bharadwaj states in the Foreword: “Crime is juicier than spirituality.”

Author: S. Hussain Zaidi with Jane Borges;
Publisher: Tranquebar Press; 308 pages;
Price: Rs. 250; Genre: Non-Fiction

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Mafia Queens of Mumbai: S. Hussain Zaidi

  1. A colleague has read this book, and even otherwise, I have heard a lot about it. Will have to put it on my reading list.

    Should be interesting if Vishal Bhardwaj takes it up as the subject for his next film.

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