Book Review: Once upon the tracks of Mumbai
Writer: Rishi Vohra (His very first book. A good start!)
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Genre: Mass Fiction (Even I have no idea what that means!)
Released in: 2012
I would like to start saying this is one book that found its way to me, like most books do. I am currently into something called ‘Mythological Fiction’ or genres like Mythology, History, Spirituality, etc. Looking at the cover of the book, one feels like it is a romantic novel, something that makes me puke. Had it been in a bookstore, I would not have given it a second glance, rejecting it as just another boring piece for the ‘Bollywood-crazy audience’. After interviewing the author though, I realised it was also talking about autism and more. I decided to give it a read just for the heck of it.
As soon as you start reading, the book has an inviting feel. If it gave me the courage to read a few pages in the office, risking the fact that my boss would pounce on me for it, it has to be good. I feel the language is simple and has an off-beat feel. We are narrated the story by an autistic Mumbaikar named Babloo. He is mostly ignored by his own family and has dreams of living a normal life with the woman-of-his-dreams, Vandana. She is the good-looking girl of the colony and the only one who talks to him sweetly, treating him as a normal human being. Things take a weird twist when her marriage gets fixed to Babloo’s younger brother, while a guy called Sikander suddenly comes into picture. He uses Babloo’s fascination with the girl for his own agenda; to elope with Vandana (for some physical pleasures only). Vandana hates her fiance Raghu to the core, for he is narrow-minded and does not know how to treat women. She falls for Sikander’s charm, while Babloo still lies in the dark, believing Sikander to be a friend helping him win over the love-of-his-life. While all this melodrama is taking place, we are introduced to someone named Rail Man, who fights bad guys and operates near the tracks of Mumbai. To know more about the story, its better you read the book, instead of expecting me to spill the beans here.
The book is amazing since the get-go. However, it takes an all new leap with the introduction of Rail Man. The plot gets even more interesting and you might just feel like you’re watching a TV serial, with melodrama enough to excite any housewife. The book, however, isn’t just about the melodrama. The life of Mumbaikars and the thick headed beliefs of Indians are portrayed. Each character gets its own space in the book, though the main emphasis is on Babloo and Vandana. The book is a fun and an interesting read, especially if you’re looking for something different and light. After all the serious reading I was getting, the book sure was a delightful change.
There are also a few things about the book that make you feel its can be a real life story. Having interviewed the author, I somehow imagined Babloo as him, even the description of the character matches how the author looks (just my perception). Vandana can be any good-looking girl who values her ideals and has an ambition to fly, hoping to enjoy some freedom of her own. The book talks about a superstar, whom I at first imagined to be Shahrukh (for the surname here is Khan too) but in the end I am pretty sure it was Salman Khan the author was referring to. Knowing that the author has worked with Salman’s brother Sohail, I’m pretty sure my belief is accurate. Rail Man can just about be anyone, for like most of us, he is someone who wishes to fight crime and clense the city of all the bad influences.
I would suggest you give this one a read, whatever your genre or likes maybe. It can find a connect with just about anyone. If it could connect with a stout Punekar while all it talked about was Mumbai and Mumbaikars, there definitely must be something to it, right?