Death in Mumbai by Meenal Baghel is a gripping account of the infamous killing of Neeraj Grover by an aspiring actress Maria Susairaj and her naval boyfriend Emile Jerome. Everyone knows the story and how the killing took place. Everyone knows what happened. Why the need then to chronicle this in a book? That is because no one is aware of how it started and also because one must not forget that brutalities such as this one still exist in our so-called civil society.
Meenal Baghel writes the book without any bias which is what is needed while writing such a book. The writer has to come without opinions and pre-conceived notions and only then can a book of this stature be written. The book takes into account everything, all of it: how Neeraj met Maria, his career graph, her need to become what she wanted to, the lengths she would go to, the involvement of Emile, the murder and its aftermath.
Meenal takes the writing to one step further – she involves the direct and the indirect cast as well. From speaking with Ekta Kapoor (Neeraj Grover used to work for her) to providing a perspective on the ‘script opportune’ Ram Gopal Varma and his film based on this incident, Neeraj’s family members and their grief, Meenal doesn’t leave any stone unturned. The best part of the book is the role played by the Mumbai police led by Rakesh Maria, then the joint Commissioner of Mumbai Crime Branch, in cracking the case. The book is heavy with the details (because that is where the meat lies) – the interrogation, the confession and finally the trial and its outcome.
Death in Mumbai is not for the faint hearted. It is brutal, hard-hitting and but of course real. It shakes you up and makes you see the murder in a different light – The motives and what led to it. I thoroughly enjoyed the book – the writing is honest and blunt and it made me finish the book in one sitting.