The summary of the book reads as-

This is the first book that presents the history of the Mumbai mafia, and details the lives of Karim Lala, Chhota Rajan, Haji Mastan, Abu Salem, and Varadarajan Mudaliar. The main part of the book revolves around Dawood Ibrahim and describes his story starting from a young age as a boy in Mumbai to the international terrorist he has become today.

This book traces the journey of a boy from Dongri to Dubai. Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar was born in 1955 to a policeman. The author describes Dawood’s first robbery, his love affairs during his youth, and how he turned into a local goon. The police used to use him against various Pathan gangsters. Gradually, he managed to destroy the competition, formed the Dawood gang, and ended up being the Mumbai Police’s arch nemesis. The don is an ally of Pakistan’s ISI, though he is not an Islamic fundamentalist.

Zaidi analyses that this alliance was born out of necessity. Pakistan is said to shelter him though he is one of the most wanted people on this planet, and in return he funds Islamic jihads. Interestingly, Dawood’s biggest source of income in Pakistan comes from selling pirated Bollywood movies. The personality and characteristics of Dawood Ibrahim have been covered well in this book. His lust for power, his focus, his shrewdness, and his calculating mind have been captured beautifully.”

 

S Hussain Zaidi, one of the leading crime reporters in India who has previously given us books like Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts (later adapted into the critically acclaimed movie of the same name by Anurag Kashyap) and Mafia Queens of Mumbai literally presents us the dummy’s guide to the Mumbai mafia with Dongri to Dubai.

An absolutely riveting read, the book chronicles the formation and rise of the Mumbai underworld from the post independence era to the present and is an effective narration of the story of Mumbai from the prism of the ganglords who called the shots in the financial hub of India.

It starts with an interview with Zaidi’s interview with Dawood Ibrahim himself and subsequently  lays out the rise of different gangs in Mumbai, their deadly rivalries with each other and the role and relationship of the Mumbai police force with the underworld. The narrations are in the form of short chapters, focusing on the story of various gang members as the quagmire known as the Mumbai mafia devours everyone within it. The book is in two parts-

I) The first one covers Dongri and other sub-urbs which were the hotbeds of crime, like Byculla, Kamathipura, Chor Bazaar. It also covers the meteoric rise of Dawood- from a streetside ruffian son of a respectable cop as a force to reckon with in the Mumbai underworld.

II) Second part- Dawood shifts to Dubai and his consequent dealings with other ganglords, his fascination with Bollywood, glamour, his ever expanding network, his involvement with the ISI and being declared as a global terrorist.

The 1st part is more captivating and it meticulously details how different gangs operated and created the black market by netting all the fishes in the crime dragnet- from the politicians to the police to other influential players- each one eager to make a quick buck in economically difficult conditions (a prime factor for fostering the rise of different gangs). The vicious rivalries between the Pathans and the Dawood gang makes for some intense reading.

The 2nd part mainly is about Dawood establishing himself as the uncrowned don of the underworld by controlling all operations from the comfort of Dubai through his stooges like Chhota Rajan and Chhota Shakeel and the introduction of Hindu crime lords in a basically Muslim D- company. His venture into terrorism by funding Pak-based terror outfits and the importance he holds in Pakistan through the unflinching support of the ISI is well documented. The reluctance of the US in cracking down on Dawood’s network is also mentioned. Strangely, though Dawood’s role in the 1993 blasts is elaborated, the 2008 Mumbai terror attack isn’t covered. I wonder why Zaidi missed out on that.

The dialogues in the book are present in raw Hindi (complete with expletives) with English translation and you feel like you are unravelling a Bollywood thriller. On that point, another fascinating aspect is the relationship of Bollywood and the Mumbai Mafia. Whatever you have seen in Hindi films (in the 80s and 90s mainly)- the dialogues, the crime scenes, the emotions on display, all the Bollywood cliches- EVERYTHING is an actual portrayal of the Mumbai underworld. Those cheesy dialogues, the infatuation with ladies of bewitching beauty (i.e. the ‘dekha to pyaar ho gaya’ syndrome), the bloody machinations involved to wipe out rival gangs- it’s film makers presenting the mafia in celluloid. A point to be noted is that many of them were financed by the underworld which substantiates the fable of the D-company running the show in the glitz world.

The information related to the crime lords is phenomenal and the various facets of Dawood’s personality is captured with different incidents- the rebellious rageboy, the protective brother, the docile son and the extremely vindictive inflamed ganglord methodically eliminating his opponents. One thing I can’t understand though. Zaidi describes the personal appearance of the various gang leaders as if most of them are quite charming and handsome. Whereas, in the pics below you can see that they look like typical uncouth and ugly barbarians (which they totally are) who have risen from the gutter to settle in perfumed gardens.

D2d1

d2d2

d2d3

HUGE FREAKING MOUSTACHES. BECAUSE NEW LEVELS IN UGLINESS NEED TO BE UNLOCKED.

This is bluntly summarized later on with Abu Salem and his obsession with his good looks-

“Salem had seen a lot of balding dons- Chhota Shakeel, Anees Bhai, Noora, Tiger Memon- and shuddered at how ugly and repulsive they were.”

Hahaha. Ugly dons and their ugly lives.

The movie Shootout at Wadala has been inspired from a chapter in this book where the fiery, paranoid personality of Manya Surve is captured in superb detail. The infamous Shootout at Lokhandwala incident and the surge in encounter killings also makes for an enthralling read.

 

Verdict: The only valid criticism of the book can be the editing errors that have crept in. It is a thoroughly gripping and absorbing book, an encyclopedia of the Mumbai mafia. Buy it. Borrow it. Read it.

4.5/5 stars

 

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Had wanted to make this a weekly feature but was unable to do so partially due to the exams and mainly because of my slothful disposition.

You can read the first two reviews here:

#HorrorMovieWeeklyRoundup | Week 1

#HorrorMovieWeeklyRoundup | Week 2

1. Carrie [1976]-

If you see the film poster, you would think that this would be one of the most scariest movies ever made. Far from being a horror movie (Carrie’s religious whacko mother was the horror element, in fact ), it is a poignant story about an emotionally and physically abused girl who discovers that she possesses telekinetic powers which can be unleashed with terrifying consequences when pushed to the limits. Carrie can also be considered as symbolic of the bullying incidents that happen at school and how an abused psyche can lash out with disastrous results. Sissy Spacek puts in an unbelievable performance as the meek recluse Carrie and ‘carries’ the movie on her shoulders right from the shower room menarche scene to the climax. A must watch!

Horror quotient: Low | 4.5/5 stars

I recently watched the trailer of the Carrie remake and they have messed up the casting itself. Chloe Moretz as Carrie? Come on!

2. Cabin Fever [2002]

Directed by Eli Roth who later on opened a new chapter in the torture porn genre with his Hostel movies, Cabin Fever is a mediocre movie with hardly any horror. A group of friends go to the woods and get infected by a flesh-eating virus. It is more about how people would react when faced with such a situation e.g. Imagine you are out on a trip with some friends and some of you contract a spreadable infection. Then what would you do? And how would the locals in that area react? The movie is about this. (Hope… that doesn’t happen *evil smile*)

Horror quotient: Mild | 2.5/5 stars

3. Demons [1985]

A piece of advice- If you are a horror fan, then lap up any movie that has the name Dario Argento associated with it. Directed by Lamberto Bava under the aegis of Argento, Demons is a complete roller-coaster ride. The plot? People go to watch a movie, demons attack and all hell breaks loose. The soundtrack- hard punk rock music (unlikely to be seen in your conventional horror movie) complements the campy feel of the movie. Bare-fanged demons run havoc, there is gratuitous violence and gore and the cheesy acting adds to the entertainment. A fun watch.

Horror quotient: High | 3/5 stars

4. The Shining [1980]

Ashamed to admit that I hadn’t watched this until now. Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, The Shining is every bit the terrifying horror film it is touted to be. We have Jack Nicholson, (who anyway looks abnormal even when completely normal) playing the character of Jack Torrance, suffering from writer’s block and experiencing hallucinatory visions of the hotel’s past horror. His mental breakdown, his wife’s ever petrified expressions and especially his ESP gifted son’s horrifying premonitions are the best parts of the movie. Kubrick maintains an eerie, chilling fear that engulfs every frame of the movie and gets you squirming every now and then. Truly a remarkable film from a remarkable director!

Horror quotient: Very high | 5/5 stars

*Warning: Spoilers follow.*


LOLZ.
There is nothing to spoil.
You can expect the obvious story in the first movie of a reboot series where a superhero meets a supervillain.

man-of-steel-04

I feel quite lazy in updating my blog and would rather post the movie review on Facebook where you can just post what you want to say in a jiffy without going through the drill of formatting, uploading pics and all that stuff. Anyway, since Superman has been my first childhood superhero (and my favorite ever. Batman comes second), a review of Man Of Steel was necessary.

First of all, the movie plot- what is it about? Man Of Steel is mainly a Superman origins movie which follows the story of Kal-El from the mayhem and doom swirling around the planet Krypton to his superhero world-saving act on earth. The story is nothing much to speak about and you can expect things to unravel in exactly the way you expect. There are quite some positives and negatives in this movie, some of which are:

Thumbs Up-

1. The mind-boggling jaw-dropping scale of action that is unleashed on screen is the delight of every fan looking for their adrenaline gratification. You can just gape open-mouthed at the blitzkrieg of impressive CGI and thunderous visual effects that are embedded within each frame of the movie. In short, the SFX-action in Man of Steel >>>> SFX-Action in Transformers+ Iron Man + The Avengers combined. It is really on a gargantuan scale and has to be seen to be believed.

2. The villains- General Zod and his henchmen prove to be more than a match for Superman and the self-righteous motives (of saving Krypton and his race)  instead of some ‘conquering the universe’ shit works out well. In fact, you can say that Zod is more of an anti-hero than villain. (By the way, what do supervillains intend to do in those ludicrous ‘taking over the universe’ plots? Destroy everything and then stare stupidly around at nothingness wearing bright spandex pants?)

Thumbs Down-

Ah, the negatives. Even though the movie instills in you a sense of awe due to its stupendous action-destruction sequences, there are quite some drawbacks which prevent Man of Steel from being the perfect Superman movie that fans had been waiting for.

1. The story follows a non-linear sequence which becomes confusing at times. You feel like blurting out- ‘Hey, why is Superman here? How did he get here? What is this about?’ type stuff. All this doesn’t matter later on though, when you get bombarded with the guilty-pleasure glory of furious super-action pyrotechnics.

2. Henry Cavill and Amy Adams. See, neither is there any time in the movie to get the chemistry between Superman and Lois Lane crackling nor does Henry Cavill in particular make any effort to be more interesting. He seems like a jaded out handsome dude who needs to work more on his acting. I haven’t seen any of his previous work but the overall result is boring in this one.

3. Yet another annoying thing were the Christianity-God references and the implied analogy of Superman and Jesus. I don’t know whether this was Nolan’s idea of making Superman seem like a more complicated character, forever introspecting on his existentiality but religious symbolism should be kept to a minimum in superhero movies.

Final Verdict: A must watch for action buffs and fans of the comic. Here is finally a movie that delivers on what you actually expect when you intend to watch a Superman movie. Zack Snyder has initiated the mega-scale awesomeness which would blow your socks off in the future sequels too. And people who complain about the excessive action or compare it with The Dark Knight trilogy, there is a LOT OF difference between Superman and Batman comics. Please go read them or either watch some Terrence Malick movie if you dislike the wham bang action. Remember the time when you used to watch such movies as a kid? Did you go in the movie hall expecting soul-searching dialogues and philosophical bromides? NO!

3.5/5 stars

Additional Reading:

16 Actors Who Have Portrayed Superman

Superman’s Symbol, Shield, Emblem, Logo and Its History

The Evolution of The Superman Logo

The 2nd quiz on Hindi movies soundtracks conducted at @kweezzz on twitter. You have to name the movie and the composer.

Q1.

Q2.

Q3.

Q4. Name the song also.

Q5. Name the song also.

Q6.

Q7.

Q8. Name the song also.

Q9.

Q10.

Q11.

Q12.

Q13. Name the song also.

Q14.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANSWERS

A1. Band Baja Baraat, Salim-Sulaiman

A2. Jodha Akbar, AR Rahman

A3. Lagaan, AR Rahman

A4. Desh Mere Desh Mere, The Legend Of Bhagat Singh, AR Rahman

A5. O o Jaane Jaana, Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya, Kamaal Khan

A6. Once Upon a Time In Mumbaai, Pritam

A7. Maachis, Vishal Bharadwaj

A8. O Hum Dum Suniyo Re, Saathiya, AR Rahman

A9. Dev D, Amit Trivedi

A10. Satya, Sandeep Chowta

A11. Shaitaan (Amy’s Theme), Ranjit Barot

A12. Krrish, Salim-Sulaiman

A13. Dekho Na, Fanaa, Jatin-Lalit

A14. Bombay, AR Rahman

A quiz on Hindi movies soundtracks conducted at @kweezzz on twitter.

Q1. Name the movie and the composer.

Q2. Name the song, movie and composer.

Q3. Name the song, movie and composer.

Q4. Movie and composer

Q5. Movie and composer

Q6. Song, movie and composer

Q7. Movie and composer

Q8. Movie and composer

Q9. Movie and composer

Q10. Movie and composer

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANSWERS

A1. Khakee, Ram Sampath

A2. Iktara, Wake Up Sid, Amit Trivedi

A3. Urvashee, Kadhalan (Humse Hai Muqabla), AR Rahman

A4. Ghajini, AR Rahman

A5. Guru, AR Rahman

A6. Arey Ruk Ja Re Bande, Black Friday, Indian Ocean

A7. Family, Ram Sampath

A8. Swades, AR Rahman

A9. Lakshya, Shankar Ehsaan Loy

A10. Udaan, Amit Trivedi

A quiz on the scientists of India conducted at @kweezzz 

Q1. 

Q2.

Q3.

Q4.

Q5.

Q6.

Q7.

Q8.

Q9.

Q10.

 

 

 

 

 

ANSWERS

A1.  X- Susruta, Y- Susrutasamhita

A2. A- Aryabhata, B- Zero, C- Brahmagupta, D- Brahmasphutasiddhanta

A3. X- C.V. Raman, Y-Presidency College , Z- Scattering of light & Raman Effect

A4. A- Satyendranath Bose, B- Bose-Einstein statistic, C- Boson

A5. A- Vikram Sarabhai, B-Satellite Instructional Television Experiment(SITE), C- IIM Ahmedabad

A6. A- Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, B- Emulsions & Colloids, C- Punjab University, D- CSIR

A7. A- Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, B- Chandrasekha’s number, C- Chandrasekhar’s limit

A8. A- National Mathematical Year, B- National Mathematics Day, C- Srinivasa Ramanujam. The number is 1729.

A9. A- M.S. Swaminathan, B- Green

A10. A- Jagadish Chandra Bose, B- Crescograph

**WARNING** 

MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD. READ ONLY AFTER YOU HAVE WATCHED THE MOVIE

So finally. I have watched The Dark Knight Rises. The movie that millions of Batman fans had been fervently waiting for, expectations sky-high (especially after the brilliance of The Dark Knight) and anticipating nothing less than a cinematic marvel that would blow them off their feet, a monumental piece of cinema with great acting, incredible action, the right dose of suspense and humour and an ending that would leave Batmaniacs gasping for breath.

Unfortunately, it falls flat on many counts and despite the superbtastic soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and some really impressive action sequences, The Dark Knight Rises fails to live upto the hype created ever since the name of the movie was announced.

What are the positives here? Well, only a few. One of them is surely Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, a crafty, unapologetic burglar with a love-hate relation with Bruce Wayne and Batman. The latest toy of Batman- the flying contraption or the Batwing is another positive which induces a feeling of awe during the action scenes, which are very well-executed.

But there are flaws aplenty. For instance:

1. Cliched, done to death plot– Consider most of the action movies in Hollywood, Bollywood or any other movie industry- most involve spies or some retired special agent who is ‘called back for duty’ to take on a villain who threatens up to blow up a city with a nuclear bomb. Exactly the same happens in The Dark Knight Rises. The aura of suspense is missed throughout the movie. Also, Batman’s initial encounter with Bane doesn’t evoke any feeling of dread and gloom.

2. & 3. Bane and the Bane-Talia romantic angle- Undeniably the weakest link in the movie. Bane is a loser, wussy villain who sounds like an 80-year-old- granddad. The voice of Bane has definitely been altered, because you can notice in the prologue his deeper, more sinister vocalism. Damn you Christopher Nolan :-/  I felt like guffawing whenever Bane opened his mouth. Also, when Miranda Tate is revealed to be Talia Al Ghul, the pathetic Bane actually becomes emotional. Boy, what an embarassment. Nolan’s Joker would roast him alive if he ever crossed his path.

One more thing, what in the bejabbers was that Talia-Bane romance? It reduced Bane to nothing more than a henchman of Talia who was ‘fulfilling her father’s wishes’. And if the ages of Bane and Talia in the flashback are as shown- an adult and a kid, then clearly Bane is a paedophile. He was what…boning the child Talia? PAEDO!

4. The ludicrous ending- First of all, Christopher Nolan had said there would be no Robin in the movie. Then why in the name of all that is holy was the reference to Robin regarding Gordon-Lewitt’s character- John Blake even made, eh? And the ending, oh wow, Batman flew away with the nuke in his batwing and its shown that 5 seconds before detonation, he is still sitting in his uran khatola. No way he could have escaped and cleared 6+ miles to survive that blast. Batman is NOT SUPERMAN!

Nolan also said ‘we want to end it in the biggest way possible’. This was the epic end? A cheesy nuclear blast and the hero saves the entire city? Pah! Get more innovative, Mr. Nolan.

5. Too many characters- In a superhero movie, the focus should remain on the superhero vs supervillain battle. In The Dark Knight Rises, its a complete clutter with many unnecessary characters. Its all about Gotham city, in fact. I was wondering if Bane was really required in the movie… because his role is nothing more than of a thug doing the bidding of his masters.

All in all, for me, someone who had spammed the timelines of people on Twitter and Facebook, assuring them that this would be the biggest superhero movie ever made, The Dark Knight Rises was a big disappointment.

Final review of the Batman trilogy:

Batman Begins- 4/5 stars

The Dark Knight- 5/5 stars

The Dark Knight Rises- 3/5 stars.    3.8/5 stars

* After reading this review–> http://www.forbes.com/sites/markhughes/2012/07/26/the-meaning-of-joseph-gordon-levitts-fate-in-the-dark-knight-rises-spoilers/  the rating for TDKR has been increased to 3.8

 

For additional reading: 

1. How much would it cost to be Batman in real life? http://mashable.com/2012/07/30/how-much-would-it-cost-to-be-batman/

2. Hero worship: Why Nolan’s Batman is the king of movie superheroes http://www.ign.com/articles/2012/07/28/hero-worship-why-nolans-batman-is-the-king-of-movie-superheroes

3. Five Leadership Lessons From Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2012/07/30/five-leadership-lessons-from-christopher-nolans-batman-trilogy/

4. A look at every single bat-tool Batman has utilized! http://www.ign.com/wikis/the-dark-knight-rises/Bat-Gadgets

5. How The Dark Knight Rises reveals Batman’s conservative soul http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/9405999/How-the-Dark-Knight-Rises-reveals-Batmans-Conservative-soul.html