“A sequel to Dongri to Dubai” would be the best way to describe the nonfiction book “Byculla to Bangkok” written by S Hussain Zaidi. Based once again on the Mumbai underworld, the author mainly focuses on gangsters belonging to the “Hindu” community. Filled with graphic descriptions of “violence and deceit”, this book is a gripping page turner. And so, to understand in details why “Byculla to Bangkok” is such a fascinating read here is presenting a detail analysis.
a. The plot of Byculla to Bangkok:
“The growth of the Hindu dons” is the theme on which the plot of this brilliant book is based on. So, be it Chhota Rajan (a once close aide of the dreaded Dawood Ibrahim), don turned politician Arun Gawli, or the Naik brothers Amar and Ashwin this book describes the journey of each one of them in great details. Furthermore, the author through the medium of this book also explores the “unholy” nexus that existed between these Hindu gangsters and powerful politicians in the city of Mumbai. In fact, this book possesses a comment made by the Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray in which he is said to have called the “Hindu” gangsters such as Gawli as “Amchi muley”, when literally translated means “our boys”. In addition, the author does a brilliant job in fleshing out the role that the “policemen” (many of whom were encounter specialists) of Mumbai played in curbing the menace created by these so called Hindu gangsters. Overall, this book quite magnificently captures the essence of the transition that a few young men belonging to the “Hindu” community in Mumbai city underwent to eventually become feared gangsters.
b. The “Writing style” used in Byculla To Bangkok:
“Extremely simplistic and journalistic” would be the best way to describe the writing style used for this book by Zaidi. Using the “third person” narrative as a writing tool the author beautifully encapsulates not only the growth of the underworld within the “Hindu” community but also the circumstances in the city that caused many young men to take crime. For example, the author has very eloquently described in depth how the shutting down of mills in the Girangaon area in South Mumbai contributed to the creation of many gangsters (mainly Hindus) in the Mumbai city.
c. The “Mumbai” connection to Byculla to Bangkok:
Based on the crime history of Mumbai, this book beautifully captures the sociopolitical circumstances that engulfed the Mumbai city during the 70’s and 80’s, which then led to creation of a number of gangsters belonging to the Hindu community. In fact, a chapter dedicated to “Girangaon” accurately describes how the shutdown of mills and the circumstances surrounding the city that led to young men such as Arun Gawli belonging to the families of mill workers eventually became gangsters.
Having read this book myself, I can confidently say, that if you intend to understand the rise to prominence of gangsters belonging mainly to the “Hindu” community in Mumbai city, then Byculla to Bangkok is a book that is worth a read.