Mumbai is a city full of stories of gang wars, mafia, land mafia, drug mafia, nefarious activities, smuggling dens and names such as Dawood, Chotta Shakeel, Abu Salem, Arun Gawli are well known. But have you heard of names like Jenabai, Gangubai, Ashraf alias Sapna? Well not many would have since these women were not as spoken about in the mafia world as much as the men. But these are few of the women covered in S.Hussain Zaidi’s (with Jane Borges)book Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Gangland.
With a foreword by Vishal Bharadwaj and a promise by him to make a movie on one of these women, the stories in this book are all Bollywood worthy stories. Did you know that Haji Mastan the dreaded gangster of Mumbai depended on Jenabai’s insights to take important decisions or that Gangubai, the matriarch of Kamathipura, is still revered as a goddess by many in the red light area? Gangubai is also said to have convinced and impressed Nehru with her wit and clarity of thought. I personally liked Ashraf’s story. Ashraf whose husband was shot dead in a fake encounter on the request of Dawood sets herself a goal of eliminating the man. She is almost close to doing that but ultimately fails. The story I found most unconvincing is that of Abu Salem’s actress girfriend Monica Bedi. Arun Gawli’s wife comes across as a huge support system for the dreaded gangster turned politician, the ambitious Neeta Naik and many more such women.
The book makes for an insightful read. It shows how powerful some women have been in the world hugely dominated by men. While some have been a support to their men by constantly guiding them and helping them some managed to make it on their own.
Interesting read. If the world of Mumbai Mafia intrigues you this book should be in your ‘to read’ list.
About the Authors:
S.Hussain Zaidi is considered one of the leading crime journalists in the country. He is the author of the bestselling Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts and is currently resident editor of the Asian Age, Mumbai.
Jane Borges is a journalist with the Asian Age, Mumbai.