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Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Women Who Ruled the Ganglands

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I was hooked to learn the tenacity, the grit, the determination of each of these ladies who had come to rule the underworld by their own choice, desire or by the virtue that their love for their respective partners made them choose this world wittingly or unwittingly.

However, I must admit that while reading the story, “The Matriarch of Kamathipura” on Gangubai I truly felt that the story was almost like a screenplay. It was sad to read the story of “Gangubai” who was sold by her boyfriend to a brothel in Kamathipura and the ordeal she had to undergo before she became a known figure there. But something happened at Santa Cruz International Airport which changed her life altogether and brought a tragic ending to her life.

Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts" - Zaidi's book "Black Friday" is a compelling account of the 1993 Bombay bombings. While circumstances forced some to take up crime while some entered in the crime world willingly lured by money and luxuries. Mahalakshmi Papamani, close confidant of Varadaraj Mudaliyar was another fascinating character and to think that she is still alive is a statement to her grit and determination.

I guess I may have to revisit this book sometimes in the future to learn once more about these women and their exploits in the underworld. I don't read a lot of books about gangsters, but the ones that I have, all revolve around male gangsters. She dares to take on Dawood Ibrahim, who had already moved out of India and has been out of reach of the law since then. It was also good to visit the bylanes of Mumbai city especially the underbelly areas like Dongri, Kamthipura, The Deepa Bar etc.Read it to understand that a human being is driven not only by power and money but also by the need to love and be loved. This book aims to comprehend the complex minds and psyches of the famously well known female criminals of the India. If I remember his preface, he says that the book is quite tragic and tells stories of women who while ruled the underworld has had a life full of trials and tribulations. Finance is provided by PayPal Credit (a trading name of PayPal UK Ltd, Whittaker House, Whittaker Avenue, Richmond-Upon-Thames, Surrey, United Kingdom, TW9 1EH). Hussain Zaidi and Jane Borges explore the lives of some of these women, and how, in cold blood, they were able to make their way up in what was certainly a man's world.

The book upfront clarifies that in our Hindi films, these women are shown to be show pieces but in real life, they are women of substance who control many things around these gangsters. Though there are numerous books and movies on life of underworld dons, mafia queens who can / are running underworld are unknown to normal people. Story of Jenabai was really impressive, Gangubai-the sex worker or 'Kamathipura Ki Amma' and her connection with the gangster Karima Lala as brother-sister and in later days her social works were also good, somewhat like Nalini Jameela (the first sex-worker who wrote her autobiography), but the most awful and heart-rending story in the collection was of Ashraf aka Sapna Didi, a widow whose husband was murdered by Dawood Ibrahim because he wanted to leave his Comapany.It was also heartening to read that Gangubai later adopted children from the locality and raised them. You can never know how dark the glamour world of Bollywood may turn into just overnight- Monica's life has given a glimpse of it!

Kankana Basu of The Hindu felt, " Mafia Queens, by virtue of its very stark simplicity is a revelation, a rare treat for the discerning lover of crime stories. But the real heroes are Zaidi and Borges, who ventured undaunted into the dark corners of the city to illuminate them. She loved her husband so much that she decided to kill Dawood and for this went through extensive training of arms and weapons, but she came to dreadful and brutal end. A chapter from the book was adapted into the Bollywood film Gangubai (2022) by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. They were as innocent as any average human being in that city but somehow got the company of men who walked on the path of crime and that pushed them into the underworld dealings.

After reading through this book, holding in mind 'From Dongri to Dubai', my preference would be for this book. Somewhere else, many years ago, an alone, sick and pained woman was stabbed multiple times in her private parts because she dared to stand up for her beloved departed and many more years ago and still remembered as a deity by few was a sex worker who'd put today's feminists to shame.

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