Title: Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai
Author: Rishi Vohra
Cost: INR 175/-
A line I loved from the book:
“That’s the way. Be happy. They say that life may not be the party we hoped for but we may as well dance.”
The book “Once upon the tracks of Mumbai” is Rishi Vohra’s first novel and a very promising read too. The story is all about Balwant Srivastav or Babloo as his friends call him who is trying very hard to be happy in every possible way he can. But in the opening pages of the book it is evident Babloo does not have many friends for the simple reason that he is different. Our protagonist is autistic and neglected by the society but in reality his disregard for the mundane self obsessed society draws more logic and weaves the fabric of the entire book. The “slow at everything” Babloo dreams big and of love and life and Vandana – enters our heroine. Vandana is a honey trap for all, unintentionally, and is the only person who treats Babloo with some dignity. As the story moves ahead it develops a total filmy taste and becomes more like ‘new wine in old bottle’ but the catch here is the new wine is yummy and old bottle makes you to yearn for more slowly and steadily.
The story has some villains too. Sikander and the sidekicks initiate the tension that grows and blows up in the face later in the story. Also how can one forget the stress created by the nonchalant family of our innocent protagonist? By the time the book approaches the climax you feel like you have figured out the story but just when you are ready to dive in Rishi Vohra makes you realize it’s a mirage. Though you know the end the journey is way too delightful to let the end spoil the fun. Plus there is a hero in making “The Rail Man” that makes the whole story quite interesting.
- I am a fan of Rishi Vohra’s narrative already. The story flows with easy covering each and every aspect the readers can think of, with skillfully crafted words.
- I loved a lot of “Mumbai” Babloo makes the readers see through his eyes. Bandra is one of my regular hangout places in Mumbai specially the area around St. Andrews and I could see each and every place the writer drew a vivid word picture of. (Though mention of Mira Road as a “far flung suburb” made me kind of upset too)
- The innocence of Babloo and the small talks he had with him “his best friend” were in a way hilarious.
- The meeting of Manjit Singh and Babloo and how it was not just some blink and miss.
- The Bollywood touch to the story. Though it might appeal to a lot of people as a reader I am not very fond of the Bollywood invasion on the Bookowood.
- The recurring mention of Vandana’s American dream wheel angle.
- The climax was a bit rushed. The impact of the climax needed to be strong but in reality the jolt is a bit subtle.
- Use of cal-local abuses seemed to break the flow a bit and made me wish the typical Hindi words were avoided.
Overall the book is a quick sweet and refreshing read. It had scope of incorporating more story in it but the transformation of Babloo from some petty creature suffocated in an overcrowded city, living an uncertain life like the trains on the tracks of Mumbai, to the successful, self super hero is an interesting one and may touch the emotional chords of many. Also the book can easily be made in to a movie, and if that happens its is going to be a good one for sure. And especially for Mumbaikars - a trip to Churchgate and back from maybe Borivali and you can easily finish the book making your regular train journey fascinating. I would rate the book a 3/5.
Also to know more about the book and the author do visit the book website : www.rishivohra.com