& occasionally about other things, too...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Two tales & a city - II

  • Continued from the post above

Guest post by Piroj Wadia

From enchanting sepia memories of Bombay, to the seamier side of Mumbai, replete with acerbic cops, sharp shooters and terrorism where the gutters flow over with sewage and guts marks Mumbaistan, a trilogy of crime thrillers. Another first time  author,   film director and script writer, Piyush Jha.  

Crime fiction is an unexplored genre in Indian writing in English,  Mumbaistan is  Piyush Jha's effort  towards filling the gap.  Each of the plots of the three novellas  is replete with  twists and turns.  Jha has used Mumbai as the stage for his cast of colorful characters -- prostitutes, gangsters, terrorists and policemen in quest of love and sex to revenge and redemption. There is a common  thread that runs through  each of these stories  that is the human element.

Bomb Day has a post 26/11 touch with Pakistani intruders in Mumbai. It has a strong love story in the middle of it all which binds the narrative. It starts well, as it gets into the informer and cop plot. With terrorists, prostitutes, goons, killings all around and a helpless protagonist. There are  quite a few surprises as the action unfolds at a frantic pace. You are never left wondering: what’s love (element) go to do with it?   Piyush Jha spins the tale such, that it is impossible to keep the love element out.   A page turner, what makes Bomb Day  is the surprising  climax.

Injectionwala Opens up the  kidney sale  racket in the heart of Mumbai. This one begins with a killing, has ample sex, turns into a medical thriller, which  spurs social awakening, but   has more murders and sexual interludes. Pulp fiction at best, with doctors finding themselves on both sides of ethics. One trying to save the world by killing those involved in malpractices and another who is very involved in the kidney selling racket. Injectionwala is saved from turning into a boring affair by Piyush Jha as he includes various thrilling elements to hold the reader. Where it scores   is the fact that the reader is  never bored and wants to know till the very end about the culmination of Injectionwala.

Coma Man is a bit of a Bollywood potboiler, all the same as thrilling as it gets. A man awakens from a coma after 20 years and finds himself on the roads of Mumbai even as politicians, gangsters and his own wife encounter him at various junctures.  The novella unfolds at a rapid pace; the reader wants to follow the coma man, who is trying to find what transpired that fateful night when he went into coma. The action  unfolds in the course of a single day, and  has a lot happening from being  pursued by a Municipal Councillor with a gun, a couple of smugglers on a highway, a gangster who is protected by an underworld boss, a bunch of cops and, his own past. In the middle of this all he comes across a helpful drug addict, an elderly lady who perhaps holds a key to his past, and some corpses. This one has tested Piyush Jha’s familiarity with the unmarked  suburban terrain. The culmination is along expected lines, but an engaging tale all the same.

Piyush Jha must be credited with   his intricate knowledge of Mumbai well and has set his stories not just around known landmarks, but also around little-known areas like the cemeteries or the mill areas in Central Mumbai. Mumbaistan is pure pulp fiction a must read for those looking for thrilling page-turners.

Piroj Wadia is a Bombay (Mumbai) based journalist  

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