Another trip down the Crime Alley

The man behind the classic tales of Mumbai mafia is back with more stuff ‘films’ are made of. Here we talk about Hussain Zaidi’s first book as well as his most informative which brings forth links between Bollywood and Mumbai Mafia, making you feel that reel life is as the real one.

Black Friday (2002)

Black Friday: The True Story Of The Bombay Bomb Blasts was S. Hussain Zaidi’s first book where he went behind the scenes to bring his side of the Mumbai [then Bombay] attacks that rocked the Indian metropolis in the early 90’s. Even after 15 years since its publication [and being brought to cinema screen], the book looks valid considering the events that led to the attacks haven’t changed and people who were involved in it are either self-exiled, incarcerated or dead.

S. Hussain Zaidi allegedly links Indian gangster Dawood Ibrahim to the attack but when you get to read about it, you finally realise that it was the Babri Masjid demolition and its aftermath that made the don take extreme measures. Over 250 people were dead in the attacks and over 700 injured, although Dawood Ibrahim escaped from India soon, his hold over the underworld syndicate D–Company remained intact. This book also tells you about his associate Tiger Memon and his [now executed] brother Yakub Memon along with many of those about whom we have read in the papers; this book brings forward their story and why they preferred to stand with their religion over their government.

The extremely well-researched book was also made into a film by Anurag Kashyap and had a delayed release even in India since it was considered way too controversial. However, if you have read the book then watching the film becomes even more important as you will get to see the places where the shameful act took place, but also get to know the people who were part of the team that cracked the case and apprehended those who were found responsible.

Headley and I (2012)

From the Mumbai attack of the 90’s we move on to those that took place in 2008; in Headley and I the writer blames Pakistan and shortlists David Coleman Headley as the main man behind the event. His source is also a high-profile Indian Robin Bhatt who was arrested for his closeness to the alleged terrorist and blamed by the entire world for being anti-Indian, despite his father, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and sister Pooja Bhatt’s explanations.

Officially written by Rahul Bhatt and S. Hussain Zaidi, the book is a gripping account of the attacks that shook India on November 26, 2008. While the whole world was told that Ajmal Kasab was the principal character, the writer claimed that it was David Coleman Headley who ran the show as he conducted the recce and scouted for the targets days before the attack. His past as a Pak-American as well as his relationship with his estranged father was blamed for his decision to be a part of the terror attack. All he needed was someone who could help him roam around the city and he found the perfect partner in wanna-be actor and Bigg Boss contestant, Robin Bhatt, whose own past and struggles were discussed too.

The book also talks about Headley’s links with alleged terrorist outfits in Pakistan, although it’s hard to believe how an American-looking guy was accepted as a Pakistani by the intelligence agencies; that’s something that looks believable in films but not in real life and here is where Zaidi’s patriotism took him to unusual heights, that can only be understood if you close your eyes, switch off your mind and let yourself be brainwashed like Headley ‘supposedly’ did. However, if you read the 250-odd pages as a history buff, it might clear some perceptions; not all of it could be true though!

My Name is Abu Salem (2014)

Remember the guys who sold illegal guns to Sanjay Dutt in his biopic Sanju that was released earlier this year? Well, all those guys were based on real-life characters and one of them – Abu Salem – has a story that’s as interesting as Sanju’s. This book is all about that gangster who wants a film dedicated to him, and even befriended a film actress – Monica Bedi – in order to make his dream a reality.

My Name Is Abu Salem is the story of a youngster who wanted to become a gangster from as early as he could remember. How this poor mechanic became a dangerous mafia don and how he became part of Bollywood is something that only S. Hussain Zaidi can find out and in this book, he does that just in his usual style. You get to know that Abu Salem ran away from his home in Azamgarh when he was young, did odd jobs to get close to men who mattered and did everything afterward to earn the respect that he dreamt of back in his youth.

Be it the murder of music baron Gulshan Kumar, attempted murders of Rakesh Roshan and Manisha Koirala’s secretary, S. Hussain Zaidi chronicles about them as if he was there. He traces the rise of his subject from the days when he was a driver in D-Company to his escape to Dubai where everything changed for him. He became conscious of being better-looking amongst his colleagues and ended up with ladies who left him for his illegal ways. How he hooked up with Monica Bedi [who acted opposite Sanjay Dutt in Ek Aur Ek Gyarah] and how the two ended up in prison is mentioned like fiction by the writer, but the truth is that it’s all fact. •