“Once Upon The Tracks of Mumbai” is Rishi Vohra’s first novel. From the entertainment industry to pursuing a green MBA and finally to publishing a book, Rishi has done it all. He has also been a guest columnist for various newspapers and a regular writer of wine. So does his novel work? Let’s check it out.
The blurb goes like this –
“Autistic. Schizophrenic. Psychotic…”
‘They’ use these words to describe Babloo – the doctors, his family, his teachers..everyone..except Vandana. She treats him the way he wants the world to see him.
Mumbai..the city that defines his ultimate desires. Will it allow him the love and ‘normalcy’ he so craves?
Vandana..yearns for a soulmate to rescue her from the confines of the Railway Colony they all live in. Is she looking in the right place?
Rail Man..a fearless, real – life hero who succeeds in doing all that Babloo secretly wishes to do..is Babloo his inspiration or..is it the other way around?
A random twist of fate on Mumbai’s endless, serpent – like, jangling local train tracks ties all these characters together in a complex weave of love, heartbreak and courage.
Babloo draws the reader into his fascinating, heart – rending journey through the twisted, choked lanes of Mumbai, into an open space where he can finally be born again.
The book has a well designed cover which reflects the theme quite aptly. The font and the quality of paper used make the book quite presentable and good to look at.
The concept though not very new has been treated quite well. At most of the places, the story moves at a decent pace though sometimes it stutters when the author gives too much importance to things which don’t add much to the story. One rarely sees Indian authors have such character types in their novels. Rishi has beautifully portrayed the angst, the emotions and the behaviour of Babloo quite well so much so that one begins to feel for him. The way the city of Mumbai has been described, one surely gets the feeling that Rishi has quite a love affair with the city.
The narrative packs in quite a few interesting sequences particularly when the angst of Babloo is portrayed or the way Rail Man goes around and saves different people. The story is gripping throughout keeping the reader interested.
But then there are certain downsides to the book as well. The plot gets quite cliched and Bollywoodish at times. Though its good in the sense that it can be effectively translated into a movie, the reader feels slightly disappointed at certain instances. A case in point is the rushed climax which could have been a bit more realistic. The book could also have done with some more editing.
Babloo is the heart and soul of the story. It must have taken Rishi quite some research to portray a character who some describe as psychotic while others describe as schizophrenic. Mumbai in itself is one of the central characters of the story. The lives of everyone revolve around this beautiful city and Rishi has left no stone unturned in keeping his descriptions quite apt. Vandana is the only one who understands Babloo and doesn’t really make fun of him. She likes to talk to him and is a completely independent working woman. Sikandar is quite good as the stud who hooks up with any and every girl in the colony. Vandana’s and Babloo’s family make up the rest of the characters.
All in all, its a nice sweet little read which had the potential of becoming even better!
Rating – 3/5