‘Dongri to Dubai: Six Decades of the Mumbai Mafia’ is a non-fiction book written by S.Hussain Zaidi, a crime reporter in Mumbai who has worked with The Indian Express, etc. This book traces the history of the Mumbai mafia, approximately from the time we attained independence, and then traces the activities of the D-Company (headed by Dawood Ibrahim), in detail.
I guess crime reporting and writing a real-life story about a criminal syndicate should be quite difficult because a lot of research is involved and one needs to find a way to actually get all this information. The author has done that part exceedingly well and has presented the story as if he had surveillance cameras covering entire Mumbai, Dubai & Karachi! Being a reporter & following the subjects mentioned in the book for years, should have helped.
It seems, Dawood Ibrahim was listed as the 50th most influential person in the world by the Forbes magazine in 2010! The underworld is about business. Only, they have made crime their business. Organized crime is a business that involves high-stakes and high-losses. The high-stakes might involve money, power and influence. The high-losses might involve loss of money, name, life, running from police/rival gangs, etc.
You will be shocked to read the extent to which each of these gangs went to eliminate rival gangs/members. In many cases, members of the same gang turn against each other. The book describes (in detail) on how much influence/connections the underworld has in India (and rest of the world) and the different kind of businesses they get involved in – Smuggling, extortion, video piracy and even producing Bollywood movies!
Initially, the book talks about the major gangs of Haji Mastan, Varadarajan Mudhaliyar, Pathans, etc. Then, the author documents the rise of Dawood Ibrahim, ironically, the son of a straight-forward (and respected) crime-branch police officer Ibrahim Kaskar. It’s a perfect rags-to-riches story, but this story is purely made of other’s blood.
The violence perpetrated by the various gangs of Mumbai will leave you shocked! There is some sort of violence in every page and even though this is a non-fiction book, reading it is like watching a crime-thriller. Only, this is a true story!
By the time you ponder on how the law and order situation could get so bad, the Mumbai crime branch police come up with innovative methods to tackle crime. The book then goes international with leading members of the crime syndicate forced to leave India, but still continue their business operation here, remotely from abroad.
At times, I did wonder about how the author (and others) could know so much about what exactly happened inside crime syndicates, as certain events are described scene-by-scene! The author has managed to write a gripping/suspenseful story and at no point do we feel that the book is a non-fiction work. I was tempted to pick up the book at every possible opportunity and read further. That, is the mark of a good author.
By the way, you should know that getting involved in the smallest of criminal activities (like buying pirated movies) directly funds activities like smuggling/terrorism. Altogether, this is an excellent book and is highly recommended.