Well researched, this book is a tribute to the women who have made significant inroads into Mumbai's criminal underbelly.
|Mafia Queens of Mumbai |
Stories of Women from
S.Hussain Zaidi, Jane Borges
Rs 250; Pp 308
There are no stereotypes in the world of crime, it is established at the every onset, and not every woman criminal is pushed into crime by unfortunate circumstances (as generally depicted in movies and literature). Some women are born to crime, some others chase it relentlessly and yet some others have crime thrust on them. And then there are those others who choose to channel their genius towards darker goals for the sheer adrenalin rush it entails. Thus we have the imperturbable Lallan Bhabhi, a cog in the petrol adulteration cartel, Sapna Didi, a rare woman who had the guts to stand up to Dawood Ibrahim, liquor queen Jenabai Daaruwali and the iconic brothel madam, Gangubai Kathiawadi. A rare touch given by the authors is the perennial riches-to-rags possibility hovering over each head and which seems to deter not a single of these women. As Zaidi and Borges lead one down the dark dinghy alleys of Dongri, Bhendi Bazaar, Nagpada, Dharavi and Mumbra, it becomes difficult to forget characters like the dainty bereaved Ashraf who turns into a gun-toting avenger, the charismatic Gangubai who lights up the streets of Kamathipura with a rare dignity or the bootlegging aunties. There is no attempt to romanticise the real-life stories or add unnecessary embroidery for added texture. Consequently, there is an element of starkness, a bleakness of approach that is very brave, yet strangely unsettling for the reader. One wishes the authors had added further dimensions by a deeper exploration of the complexities within each character. Some of the motives and choices made by the protagonists remain fuzzy and perplexing to the very end.