Friday, December 14, 2012

"Once upon the tracks of Mumbai" - is on the track :)-- A book Review

Title: Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai
Author: Rishi Vohra

Genre: Mass Fiction
Price: Rs 175/-

The author himself says if you like movies you will like the book. I love movies and hence needless to say I liked the book. When I was in school I went to Mumbai some where in 1993.Mumbai was Bombay then. I immediately loved the city, its magnificence , the bustling local trains and much more. Bombay's vastness amused me. I loved shopping road side at cheapest possible prices and enjoyed getting clicked at Gate way of India , Essel world  and Juhu beach. Oops ! You must be thinking I started writing a review of the book and ended up writing a  Mumbai travelogue :) I beg your pardon friends. This book takes you in to the suburbs of Mumbai, so many  local stations ,Gullys and chawls that I time travelled and visualized my trip.

The title is apt as the whole story happens in and around the railway colony and takes turns like that local  train on the railway tracks. The initial pace of the story was very slow and repetitive and I felt I may put the book aside when it picks speed with introduction and vivid description of each and every character. The story is about autistic Babloo  also suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, who obviously is slow in understanding and responding. Hence, may be the initial few pages about him were slow to do the justice to the character. Babloo and Raghu are brothers and Raghu becomes the prominent of both for obvious reasons. The endless love showered on Raghu makes  Babloo more weak and prone to even worse behavioral traits like staying aloof , talking to himself, becoming unsocial , so on so forth.

Enters Vandana who is both sympathetic and empathetic towards Babloo which makes him love her deeply and unconditionally. Vandana the prettiest damsel of the railway quarters adds beauty to the otherwise boring neighborhood.  She is both beautiful and confident , the kind of girl any boy would love to whisk away. She has her own dreams of moving to USA , marrying her dream man while Babloo dreams and hopes to become worthy of her by gaining a sense of purpose in life and becoming a hero for her but as the story turns it churns out many characters which keep you glued to the book.

Sleazy Sikander is like any other villain in bollywood, who needs a woman per day. He uses Babloo as bait to reach Vandana. Babloo on the other hand is oblivious to the facts and keeps dreaming.

Is Vandana smart enough to protect herself from Sikander who is convincing enough in the hood wink of  Gentle man ?  
Will Babloo win her love ?
Will Vandana succeed in letting her parents know her disapproval of the marriage proposal?  
Who is RAILMAN and what leads him to become so? 
You should read the book to know more.

As and when the 
rail man enters the story takes an interesting bend with many characters getting introduced here and there which succeeds in breathing life in to Mumbai in the pages. The author doesn't fail to paint his canvas with all colors of the Mumbai . The high spirits , ambitions , monotony of employees, railway crimes , Bhais and the gangs , Rich and the poor, Dharavi slums , riches and stars like Riyaz Khan who even motivate Babloo(Name of Shahrukh Khan changed for the sake of book I felt ;) ) , Band stand , Coffee day , Bandra , all the elaborate descriptions might make any Mumbaikar nostalgic. I dont stay in Mumbai. Still I could feel I was in each and every place described by the author. Santacruz , Promenade and the beach took me back to 1993 when I went to Mumbai.

The character Rail-man is no less than KKRISH to me. The way he smears black powder on his face reminded me Krish and his mask. However the repetitive portions could have been deleted and a little suspense, humour or  something more interesting could have been added to make it a great read. A little more research on behavioural traits of patients like Babloo could have made the book much more realistic. Nevertheless the book didn't fail to impress me. It is not unreal. The fight between good and bad , fate and destiny , dreams and decisions is well portrayed with good winning over bad like in any Hindi movie.

By the end of the book you will realize it is just a sweet love story. I felt genuinely bad for Babloo when he finally proposes Vandana the moment her family decides to leave the quarters. When Vandana says she is going to US he says, " Oh ! You are about to fulfill your ambition." The very lines reflect his innocence and genuine behavior and made me tad sad!

Rishi Vohra's writing is contemporary, highlighting the current issues and people which will win the reader's attention in no time.  He is another young author who can pen down many more thoughts and write even better books. I wish him huge success for his debut novel "Once upon the tracks of Mumbai"

My Rating: 3/5

Lastly this book has fair chances to be a good Bollywood movie.

 I loved the cover page which helped me imagine the protagonist Balwant Srivastava aka Babloo and Vandana rather than picturing random faces in my mind

Rishivohra  is featured as a guest columnist for various newspapers in India. He currently writes for delWine and is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW). 'Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai' is his first novel.To know more about the author visit his site  :

Go Grab your copy now. Available on Flipkart at "Once upon the tracks of mumbai"

PS: I reviewed the book as I got a signed copy from the author. However this review reflects my honest opinions!
Keep reading.


  1. Good review Afshan :) Enjoyed reading it

  2. Thanks Buddy!

    Rishi Vohra is lot better than many other authors , if u know wat i meant .

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  4. I have read another good review of this book. Will keep it on my radar. :)

  5. Hi Afshan,

    I have written my first book with football as a theme. I hope you can review it.

    Kiran Vijayan


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