Monday, July 30, 2007

Shantaram


A criminal who escapes from an Australian prison and lands up in Bombay, India finds himself totally in love with this city and its people. This nearly 1000 page story describes the city, its people, its criminal underworld and its places in such excruciating detail that even Bombay dwellers would really appreciate that the author has done his research well. The story is a first person narrative from Lindsay, about his experiences as he surrenders himself to the life and people of Bombay without realising that he himself is actually only a part in a much bigger plan thought by more powerful people. Lindsay (which is not really his "real" name) runs away to India where he comes to be known as "Linbaba". He visits a village of his tour guide/cab driver to be rechristined with the new name "Shantaram". When he is robbed off of all his money, he has no other option but to go and live in the Bombay slums. He then gradually becomes a crucial part of the Bombay mafia by joining in with Khader Khan who is the topmost mafia don at that time. Once in, he is introduced to and trained in all kinds of black market businesses like the fake passport business, foreign currency business and such. The real detail in which the author explains the functioning of each of these underworld transactions is mind boggling. As also is the explanation of all the beatings and tortures endured by the prisoners in Bombay jails. Lin himself has to endure these a couple of times and he narrates at great length the affect of these wounds on his body and moreso on his mind! He is quite a real person, not some random hero who does not crack even under infinite pressure. He does break when he loses his only friends, he does give in to drugs when he loses trust in everyone around him and he does revive himself back to avenge, to fight and to live!

All in all it is an interesting read with a good amount of humour sprinkled all over the narrative derived especially from the broken english dialogues spoken by the local Bombay'ites.

2 comments:

Virinder Urf Funda-Mentor said...

well, I have read another book giving the ins and outs of Mumbai - maximum city. 1000 pages itself would discourage me, But I think someone is making a hollywood, bollywood production on this book.. woh dekh lungaa :)

Smeagol said...

yes...its got johnny depp and amitabh bachchan.
I started reading Maximum city too, but somehow i couldnt enjoy the narration that well.