Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Girls of Mumbaistan - Piyush Jha

Three thrilling novellas of love and revenge. They are thrilling alright. Piyush maintains a hectic pace, keeps you guessing till the end and leads you on a Bendesque ride through his dear Mumbai.

The first novella, 'The Simple Girl' is naturally about a simple girl who (as simple girls do) finds herself in a situation where she needs a lot of money to get her husband treated. She gets a mysterious call and an offer to earn the money- provided she does something she should not do. She takes the offer and expectedly lands in a whole bunch of trouble. How the simple girl unravels a complex modus operandi where gullible girls like her are cheated makes for a rapid page-turning experience.

'Maid for Murder' is about a maid, a sick husband and a well-off couple who are on the verge of splitting up on not-too-happy terms. The man, a highly paid executive, is smart, the woman, his live-in, equally so, and the stakes are high. The maid finds herself caught in a delicate position - one that even a street smart operator like her cannot anticipate.

'Inspector Hijra' introduces a new character, perhaps a first in IWE, an Inspector hijra (there have been several villains as hijras, so this is a first I should think). The transgender Inspector finds a hot case landing in her lap and she trusts her gut to follow it up in the way she knows instead of waiting to go through the official process. It's a tough call, an edgy time, and we don't know if her high-risk gamble pays off or spells doom.

Piyush is an accomplished man - he directed films like 'Chalo America', 'King of Bollywood' and 'Sikandar'. He has written crime-fiction novels like 'Mumbaistan', 'Compass Box Killer', 'Anti Social Network' and 'Raakshas: India's No 1 Serial Killer'.

I liked the way Piyush kept the chapters short, the narrative tight and really took page-turning to a new level. I liked his acknowledgement of the women of Mumbai and the Hijra community - typical of Piyush - who has deep convictions of the right sort and speaks up for them. There's not an extra word and no indulgent flab in the book; the story surges ahead into rapid twists and turns until it meets a quick, unexpected end. Good stuff Piyush.

Highly talented, with many facets to him, there's a lot more to come from him for sure.

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