Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Review | Mafia Queens of Mumbai

Crime | Non-fiction | Tranquebar Press | 308 Pages | Rs. 250

Mafia Queens of Mumbai | S.Hussain Zaidi and Jane Borges

Imagine Dawood Ibrahim running like a headless chicken scared of his police constable father. Imagine him going to the safe havens that a freedom fighter turned smuggler provides in her shanty building in the most criminally active area of Mumbai. Imagine another petite lady - with no experience other than domestic - trying to revenge the death of her husband by going after Dawood and doing more damage to his business than any deadly gangster ever.

Imagine Haji Mastan nervously smoking cigarette after cigarettes, waiting for a seventy-year old woman to give him business advice. Imagine a mainstream Bollywood actress leaving everything behind for a gangster and ending up in international penitentiaries for more than five years. Imagine an ambitious wife showing her white-collared husband the way to underworld. Imagine a prostitute brutally raped by an animal Pathan time and again before she valiantly visits a feared gangster making him her Rakhi-bhai, and then using the influence to emerge as the most known name of Kamathipura, improving the sex workers’ lives like none other. Imagine contraband finding it’s way to holes dug under gas cylinders.

Imagine millionaire bar dancers, molls, vixens.

Such and several other stories find place in this collection of mini-biographies of 13 ladies who defy logic, sense and perceived notions to become the cornerstones of the underbelly of Mumbai. For everyone who loved the gruesome detail of Black Friday, Hussain Zaidi is back with another chill down our spines.

Despite the authors’ early disclaimer about how their aim is not to glorify these women but to responsibly give an impartial account, they falter consistently. There is a visible effort to impart them a minor-celeb status, although there is no attempt at sensationalizing. Well-researched facts expectedly find favour. There is laudably little creative license taken and the narrative tone is still aptly picturesque. There is a photo feature, too, that puts faces to the names. Zaidi, especially, has succeeded in showing those sides of some hugely notorious dons that we’ve never been aware of and with a sense of authority that is never doubted even for an instant.

Having said that, the reader would undoubtedly feel a little cheated as the book progresses. The first three stories are detailed, exhaustive and simply un-putdown-able. It is then the narrative loses steam. The rest are a little rushed where one could do with a little more meat.

Overall, it’s a must-read for both the uninitiated and keen observers of Mumbai’s organised crime world not just because it spans the entire crime landscape of Mumbai but also because it is done differently, with extra feminine spice.


About the authors

Currently the resident editor of the Asian Age, S. Hussain Zaidi is one of the leading crime reporters of India. He has worked for several mainstream dailies and is the author of the bestseller Black Friday: the true story of the Bombay blasts. Jane Borges is a journalist with Asian Age.

There is a foreword by Vishal Bhardwaj, one of the most respected Indian film directors, who’s going to make a full length feature film on one of the protagonists.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A-Z of B-school placements

This article was also selected to be published on America On Line (AOL)'s Coolage. Find link here.

Year after years, generation after generations, everything else on the campus comes to a screeching standstill. We call it the placement season. XL-culture manifests itself in its divine unadulterated form when throat cutting competition is lubed with pampering and support. Presenting the A-Z of this extravaganza which, invariably, makes some eyes well up with satisfaction while shattering some dreams forever.

The terminologies might vary across B-schools. But the essence remains the same everywhere.

A- Attendance Call: You smoke that puff, chew that mint, make that phone call, read that report, cross those fingers, take that breath and pee those pants.

B- 'Bahot companies hain be. Load mat le.': You aren't getting shortlists for hours. The guy next to you has got eight. It is then when this quote of the season suddenly finds its way to you through every piehole you come across.

B- 'Bahadur Bhaiya, please report at the Logs desk.': For some weird reason not even known to Team Logs, Bahadur Bhaiya is more sought after than the Placecom Secy.

C- Cactus Tree: The official band of XLRI. All vocalists. The wake up call. Masterpieces include 'Chad gaya upar re', 'Choli ke peechhe kya hai' and 'Mujhko Ranaji' among others.

C- Controls: Wannabe Godfathers beating the same old offer-refuse quote to death for ages now. Hugest contributors to Indian GDP through BishuDa. Pastimes include drawing lines and dots on pink sheets.

C- CV: A4 size tissue papers for company representatives. Also used for shortlisting.

C- CRISP: The unsung heroes. The thankless CEOs.

D: Day 0/1/2: Larger the number, more widened the a-hole.

E- Extended shortlist: This is when you start believing that God exists and that He's one hell of a sadist.

F- Final round shortlist: The closest you can get to a job and still not get it.

G- Group Discussion: You say it best when you say nothing at all.

H- Holding Area: Best compared to a public toilet. Who's outside wants to get in. Who's in dies to get out.

I- Interview: The Gadha-Baap metaphor.

J- Job Loss: The disease with no cure known to man.

K- 'Kat gaya, bey.': Your favourite reply to any question asked to you regardless of the context.

L- Logs: A superset of Cactus Tree. Job description includes watching movies with earplugs, waking up people and lying to corporate bigshots to stall process on Placecom's behest. (I was a Logger :D)

L- Long term goals: Sawaal Dus Crore Ka. You know nothing about it. The interviewer knows that you know nothing about it. You know that the interviewer knows that you know nothing about it. You still bullshit. He laughs inside.

M- Master CV: The sum total of what you haven't done in your life and have managed to get it verified.

N- Notice Board: A wooden whore copulated by a Controls guy every two minutes.

O- Offer: Orgasm.

P- Placecom: Secret Service that never lets truth get in the way of 24-carat haggling. Activities include talking in hushed voices and oscillating in suits with no destination.

P- Pecking: Placecom sponsored Viagra leading to some serious KLPD. Contemporary Swayamvara.

P- Psychometric Test: Brainchild of the mind-numbingly important department of Human Resources. Purpose unknown.

Q- Questions: Cues that start the noble phenomenon of lying. Also, what company representatives are obliged to do in between cigarette breaks and hitting-on-the-HR-chick sessions.

R- 'Random process hai bey.': The usual reponse to 'Kat Gaya Bey'. Normally followed by 'Sutta maarega?'

S- Services Girls: The only reason why there are no riots. They make the rape worthwhile.

S- Small Audi: World's most densely populated space capsule with all basic amneties inside for survival. Mating ground for Controls.

S- Skirt: A widely common feature of successful Group Discussion participants. Usually results in Day zero signout, quality inversely propprtional to length.

T- 'Tell me something about yourself': In this very order, these five words spell doom. HR's idea of a full-tossed delivery which, in essence, is a beamer.

T- 'Tera nahi hoga toh kiska hoga?': Intended to be a rhetorical question. Answered by 'Skirt waali ka'.

U- 'Uski kahan lagi?': An inexplicable obsession with people you think are less deserving.

V- Verifier: The God who you never bother to talk to after the process.

W- Well Call: A cue to go missing. Usually followed by a quick phone call to Logs.

W- 'Walk me through your CV': A manifestation of the height of laziness. A lesser evil than 'Tell me something about yourself'.

X- XL Bonding: Respect! Impossible to explain to someone who hasn't been through the process.

Y- Y chromosome: An insurpassable handicap.

And when it's all over, Z- Zzz: The surreal sleep that had been eluding for a month. Usually followed by celebrations of unforeseen dimensions.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Boyfriends Rejoice, Chintu Pissed

This article has been selected to be published in Rashmi Bansal's 'JAM:Just Another Magazine'. (Find online link here.)
This article was also selected as 'Tangy Tuesday Pick' on Blogadda. Find the link here.
My sequel to this article was published on FAKING NEWS!! Find the link here.

The Telecom Regulatory Autocracy of India (TRAI) has come up with a new pigeon off its hat. No consumer shall be allowed to send more than 100 sms per day from September 27. 'This is it! This is how the world's gonna end in 2012,' exclaimed a perspiring Chintu profusely thumbing his way to glory. 'This was all I did all day! Copying Ramesh Srivats's tweets and sending them to everyone on my contact list. Or, forwarding anything remotely funny that came my way.'

Chintu aka 'StudMale17' – as he likes to call himself – is worried that the babes might not 'dig' him anymore. He said, 'Shayari se ladkiyan patai jati hain, maamu.' When asked about when he last went out with a girl, Chintu got agitated and threatened to spam the correspondent's inbox if he didn't leave immediately.

India Against Corruption And Almost Everything Else (IACAAEE) has announced another fast-unto-death in opposition to the new regulation. 'The constitution gives us the right to send as many SMSes as we like,' remarked a visibly stoned ICCAAEE president, 'Or something like it.' He also added that a Lokpal would not have let such draconian regulations get passed though he seemed to have no explanations how, as usual. Our sources tell us that the IACCAAEE camp is pissed by the fact that they won't be able to send any more mass-inflammatory SMSes that rhyme so much every line ends with the same word.

The Frustrated Boyfriends of India (FBI) is celebrating, though. They have changed their tagline to 'We have a life, now'. The association members seemed to have been victimised for years by continuous tele-stalking: a phenomenon mastered by the urban Indian girlfriend who needs continuous text updates about her beau's whereabouts, whatabouts and whyabouts along with a daily minimum of 50 texts that smelled of mush and cheese. The celebrations were short lived, though.

FBI's counterpart 'Girlfriends of India: Just Ossom' - that has no logical explanation why they use the acronym GI-JOE – has issued a new charter of demands that makes it mandatory for every boyfriend to own a dual-sim cell phone and send at least 190 sms/day. When asked about the relaxation of 10 texts, the spokesperson answered that the remaining would be used by the girl to vote for her favourite contestant at Splitsvilla through her boyfriend. GI-JOE also approved of FBI's new tagline and allowed them their booze party of the month.

Also celebrating is Indian Beliebers, the national chapter of Just-in Bieber Fan Club. They left an official text to the correspondent that read: 'Nw wl d wrld relyz hw u can typ lyk us n sav chrctr spce. V stnd crrctd.' The correspondent will get back to you once Justypography experts have deciphered the text that seems to have originated from the area surrounding Rahul Gandhi's residence.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mumbai Blasts and Armchair Patriotism on Facebook

The post was published on Viewspaper. Find the link here.

It's the same old tale. Explosions in country's favourite city and ensuing knee-jerk 'reactions' on social media. Fits of armchair-keyboard patriotism. What suddenly gets fashionable is talking about Kasab/Afzal and blaming the goverment - the easiest one can do without the tiniest of research/understanding. The media is in a frenzy misinterpreting every single official press release: rabble-rousing at the time we need it the least. I'm still unable to come to terms with how are news/entertainment channels broadcasting half-hour programs unfairly blasting an uncharacteristically balanced statement by Mr. Rahul Gandhi. What follows is my understanding/response to whatever happened and is happening.

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. A cliche beaten to death. Still relevant. Religious scriptures are misinterpreted and people are brainwashed. They think they have a cause. And they're passionate about it. So much so that the desired ends justify every possible means. It's incredibly easy to rationalize when you have a decent education and food in the belly. The root cause, as I understand, is the sheer volatility and inflammable sentiments of what we term 'terrorists'. To me, they're just a bunch of extremely passionate believers standing by their belief. Isn't that exactly we are taught and we appreciate?

You're no different. They're told that their 'brothers' (criterion: same religion) are being massacred. They react. You see that your brothers (criterion: same country) are being massacred. You react. On Facebook.

It's just that they're ready to take a couple of steps more than us rational-in-our-AC-rooms intellectuals. But the root is the same. The volatility. The impatience. The urge to revenge. The tendency to club together individuals who happen to share nothing more than the same faith.

Killing Kasab/Afzal doesn't solve shit. If at all, it'll make matters worse. I'm not justifying the inordinate legal delay. The protracted (lack of) prosecution is indeed shameful for the entire nation. But let's move on and not crib about the same old thing. Can someone please explain what will killing them achieve? What message do we want to send across? And more importantly, TO WHOM? The to-be bombers? Let's get a hang of the ground reality. Our stereotypical Mr. Terrorist doesn't consume the media we do. For all we know, Mr. Kasab/Afzal might just be projected as ideals who made the ultimate sacrifice and who need to be idolized. What next, Mr. Facebook-status-updater?

War with Pakistan is not a solution. War is not a solution. To anything. Does anyone understand the consequences? Does anyone even know how is a war started? On what grounds? Like Uncle Sam does? Go - bomb - fuck civilians - destroy economy - destabilise region? I don't know either. All I know is that it is more difficult, destabilising and detrimental than beating up an eve-teaser.

Fuck you, media. Do I need to explain?

Stop envying Rahul Gandhi. The sooner you accept the fact that he was born with a silver spoon in one of his holes and you weren't, the better it gets for you. Stop blaming him and his motherfuckin' family for everything that goes wrong in this nation, however rotten they are.

Acquired wit, Inherent Stupidity. I have special sympathies for people with status updates: 'Kasab's birthday, have a blast'. Trust me dude, you're not funny. Escpecially when 500 people have posted exactly the same! At least make the minimum effort of validating. Kasab's birthday was Sept 13 for the record. Plus, ramblings like India should have expected something like this is dumber than anything Digvijay Singh has ever farted. How I wish you had the ability to think!

For fuck's sake, understand the meaning of a 'secular state'. What amazes me is the tendency to update 'status' in a fraction of a second spewing venom about a word one doesn't even understand. Foremost, we are a secular republic only in theory. Officially we don't have a religion and that's everything we can boast about. Religion is involved on a daily basis on both macro and micro level. But I don't want to even get started in that direction. What beats me is allusion to secularism-fathered impotence. Now, what's being potent? Let's have the balls to uneuphemise our life. It directly refers to seeing every Muslim in bad light just because the perpetrators have often belonged to that religion. Can any premise be any more flawed? Can we be any more prejudiced?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ravi Shastri and The Orgasm

Disclaimer: Adult material. If you're below 18 or feel offended by graphic images of lovemaking or simply are a jerk/prude, DO NOT PROCEED. Also, if you're not a cricket maniac, I'm sorry.


I'm sure anyone who has ever watched 10 cricket matches in his life has seen/heard him. He is the chronic illness this beautiful game has been suffering from for at least a decade and a half! He is someone who makes you wish cricket could be karaoked. He is someone who can say exactly the wrong things at exactly the right time making you wish you could slit your throat right when your team is about to smash those winning runs.

We stand united in our hatred towards him. But recently, I decided to think 'out of the box' as Mr. Shastri puts ever so clichedly. I noticed a pattern. A string of steps. A hidden sequence to the Holy Grail: an orgasm. And boy, was I stunned! He's an absolute belter of a commentator.

It took more than a week but here it is. The secret code. His most infamous lines that have fucked our ears beyond repair if arranged in a particular order narrate a porn film as great as the likes of Naughty America. Voila! [Mind it, the sequence is the key.]

The build-up

  • I get a sense that something’s gotta give.
  • I think he has been tempted into indiscretion.
  • It will be a tricky chase under lights.
  • He’s got the license to go for it.
  • They are in with a chance now.

The 'Out'

  • That looked out.
  • Oh, he flashed and he flashed hard.
  • He’s hit the cover off the ball.
  • Fans are having an absolutely great time.
  • The new ball is crucial.
  • That’s a biggie.
  • It can’t get bigger than this!

The Foreplay

  • He takes his time to get in.
  • He knows where the leg (stump) is.
  • First hour is crucial.
  • I think he has given the finger.
  • Up goes the finger.
  • Oh, that was a tentative poke.
  • He played that with soft hands.
  • It was all hand-eye coordination, no feet.
  • He really has quick hands.
  • He's got a good arm.
  • It’s the kind of game where anything can happen.


  • He might give it the Full Monty.
  • He’s the the kind of player who likes the ball coming on to the bat.
  • He’s decided to use the long handle to good effect.
  • And...he goes for the big one.
  • That's edged and taken.
  • That was close.
  • He went hard at it.
  • That went like a tracer bullet.
  • When he hits them, they stay hit.
  • He is knocking around.
  • He is mixing it up nicely.
  • You just can't snatch the momentum.
  • It's all happening here.
  • He has given it the kitchen sink.
  • He has disturbed the furniture.
  • It might go down to the wire.


  • He didn't know where the boundary was.
  • I just get the feeling.
  • At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how they come as long as they come.
  • What an absorbing session!
  • That will do his confidence a world of good.
  • That's just what the doctor ordered.

Well, at the end of the day, I guess cricket is the real winner.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Dhobi Ghat: an amateur's mini-review

A pretentious attempt at realistic cinema by a novice who made even Aamir Khan stink. Cinematic collage got a new nadir while Aamir's dialogue delivery is best left undiscussed. Monica Dogra is a breath of fresh air with her innocent yet sultry avatar. Prateik, although underutilized, impresses for a newbie.

The start is unreasonably dreary and the plot never really picks up. There is no story - we have no qualms about it - but the details are conspicuously missing from a movie that would want to go down as a collage. The dullest plot - that of Yasmeen - makes the viewer feel cheated when he gets to know that the entire melo has been for nothing. Actually, only when the 'secret' is revealed does Aamir radiate sheer brilliance: the eyes doing it the good old AK way.

Camera angles are weird but impressive - sometimes giving the feel of a documentary. There are minor patches of sheer excellence which is the least you expect from an Aamir Khan Productions' baby. Background score - or the lack of it in the most part - fits stunningly seamlessly with the theme despite the use of unfamiliar instruments.

All in all, probably an experimental blot on the production house that boasts of some real gems. But then, anything for the missus.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

And cricket it is.

It's been exactly a month. Many topics floated across the mind. None actually made me sit and take notice. Till today, that is. Finally, it's the first love of my life that made me blog again: cricket. It's a wonderful feeling, this.

Last month has been more exciting than ever. On a personal front, I have never been happier. I took one of the most important steps one could ever take in life. And I'm proud of it. The schedule of the last term seems to have been struck by a meteor. There are more blank spaces than those on Dada's paycheck. Batchmates are getting 'placed' in hordes in the biggest corporate giants. Bollywood finally seems to be finding it's feet at original dark comedy exemplified superbly by 'Phas Gaye Re Obama' and 'Mirch'. Test cricket has regained it's superiority through two nailbiting tournaments: one leading to the most dramatic African tour of the men in blue and the other making a mockery of the Aussie supremacy leaving them in 'ashes'. And God is the peak of form at what seemed like the fag end of a magnificent career.

The ongoing LOIs have been exceptionally nostalgic as well. I seem to have opened the doors the 1999 WC semis, 1996 Titan Cup finals, or for that matter, the 1994 Hero Cup semis. Chokers are back in action. Probably the best Protean side ever is being really incapable of holding onto the nerves when it matters the most.

Today was an exception, though. They didn't choke. It was the might of the Indian batting line up. Those well judged shots disguised as miscues and inside edges took them by a storm. Harbhajan Singh, the cleanest slogger of the cricket ball this world has ever seen, selected shots as accurately as ever. Zaheer Khan seemed like swinging his mace - and missing everytime - at everything that was hurled at him while he was actually leaving the dangerous ones alone, baseball can take a leak. Ashish Nehra - with looks that petrify the opposition - flexed his well toned muscles defending every overpitched delivery with the watchmaker's precision. And the winning shot: what a beauty!

It was our game from the start. We just gave them suckers a little heads up through the worryingly frequent top order collapse. The Proteas didn't leave any stone unturned either. The fielding was A-class, dropping more catches than the number of times Carol Gracias has dropped her dignity. The master strategist Smith's ingenious plan of finishing off Steyn was a masterstroke as well. Botha was just the pace that could drive the tail-enders to their graves.

All's well that ends well. We are leading 2-1. And I've rediscovered my passion for DD National, if it ever existed. I bow to thy blatant disregard towards commercialization, Prasar Bharti. At least more cricketers are seen on the field than off it on advertisements during the telecast! And I could actually watch the first delivery of every over!