Tag Archives: S Hussain Zaidi

My Name is Abu Salem by S. Hussain Zaidi

My Name is Abu Salem by S. Hussain Zaidi Title: My Name is Abu Salem
Author: S. Hussain Zaidi
Publisher: Penguin India
ISBN: 9780143423591
Pages: 248
Genre: Crime, Biographies and Autobiographies
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I had heard a lot about S. Hussain Zaidi’s writing but had never read anything by the man. I do not know why. Perhaps, there was always this perception that maybe the writing will not live up to my expectations as a reader or maybe I would not enjoy knowing about the Bombay Underworld and about the other world, so to say. But I was proved wrong the minute I picked up, “My Name is Abu Salem”, the latest by journalist and writer, S. Hussain Zaidi.

Going by the title, the book is about the life of Abu Salem and let me tell you that while it does scare you as a reader to know what kind of people exist in the world, it also makes you hate the man a lot more. I mean, I can never imagine having any empathy for a man who killed people at will, who had not the slightest remorse at how he behaved and to top it considered himself to be the lord and master of everyone influential who did and did not come his way.

Zaidi’s writing style makes the book one breezy read and also makes you think about the situations (right time, right person) in which Salem grew to become an underworld don – a boy from a small town of Azamgarh to becoming one of Mumbai’s most feared Don, the one who only wanted fame, name and glory and perhaps still does.

For most part of the book, I just kept wondering: How people lead such lives? Salem had bedded a beauty-queen who then became a film-star, he had every woman he could and wanted, he never cared about his wife Sameera and his son Amir and of course the core of it all – the crimes committed by him and his men. In all of this, I could not stop thinking of the effect a man has and the control he commands. Abu Salem’s personality went beyond who he was and maybe that was another factor that added to his aura.

There are times while reading the book, you do feel that Zaidi is not revealing or telling all, but I think it has to do only with about whom he is writing. At the same time, he is just skimming through some parts, like Salem’s formative years. Zaidi does mention the main parts and there is a lot of information which otherwise no reader would know, like Sameera’s interview transcription on what was it like being Salem’s wife for ten years or Monica Bedi’s confusion when it came to him or for that matter the way Bollywood and the construction industry perceived him.

The book obviously ends open-endedly because no one knows what will happen next in Salem’s life, given that he was sent from Portugal to India and that is how the Indian Government was able to nab him. And in more than one way, that is how the “downfall of the Don” began. “My Name is Abu Salem” is a fast-paced read with a style of writing that does not once bore you or make you leave the book.

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Book Review: Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Ganglands by S. Hussain Zaidi with Jane Borges

Title: Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Ganglands
Author: S. Hussain Zaidi with Jane Borges
Publisher: Tranquebar Press
ISBN: 9789380283777
PP: 308 pages
Price: Rs. 250
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Yes it is true, behind every successful man, no matter what the profession, there is always a woman. A Woman who is not only strong-headed but also sly enough to accelerate the man’s thoughts and decision-making process, in the direction she wants to. And yes women rule the roost (though for some men it is hard enough to accept the fact) and that’s true.

The reason I say this is because I have just finished reading Mafia Queens of Mumbai, a realistic and hard-hitting portrait of women who were the Mafia Queens of the metropolis. It is not weird to think that young Dawood Ibrahim in need of the hour would turn to Jenabai – a freedom fighter converted to a bootlegger. Haji Mastan and the other gangsters would also consult her and act on advice given when needed. That’s what got me thinking the most while reading the book, and come to think of it, it is just but one of the thirteen accounts of the book and Jenabai stays the most in memory as she has also been portrayed by many on the silver screen.

Each of the 13 narratives are real, pieced from official documents, case reports and anecdotes. From a woman who fell in love with a gangster to avenger her husband’s death to another who convinced her husband to join the underworld only to cheat on him and forced to flee the country.

There are so many more real-life incidents in the book such as these and it makes you wonder about what takes place behind closed doors. Mafia Queens of Mumbai is real and the writers do not mince words. Almost everything is layered and nothing is ever as simple as what meets the eye. I loved the writing. It is direct, in-your-face and unapologetic and that is what makes the book so readable.

Wives, Lovers and Mistresses – they are all there in the book. They seep through the pages and their voices are clear. They have had the will to survive and all of them are survivors, in one way or the other. From prositution to being a moll to silently being hidden behind the scenes and running the show, so to say. These women fall down and rise back to action with clearer minds and stronger determination to do what it takes to find their place in the throes of the underworld.

You can also order to book here on Flipkart