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Book Review: Dongri to Dubai by S. Hussain Zaidi

Dawood doesn’t need any introduction. The man whom every Indian hate, despise, but beyond that there is something more about his life awaiting to be revealed, the struggle he made to rise in the mafia world. Despite all odds, people may admire his rise to the power, the life he lived, the talent he developed to become something from a very ordinary life. Well, the question is – what’s his real take? Was he a genius in the world of crime, an entrepreneur by fluke, or a talent that went totally in a wrong direction? Zaidi tried to answer many questions like these in his book, Dongri to Dubai.


Dawood shot into untoward fame internationally following the 1993 Bombay blasts, since then he is the most dreaded gangster who shamed India many a time. Prior to him, the mafia landscape of Bombay was ruled by powerful crime bosses like Haji Mastan and Karim Lala. Yet he managed to capsize them to become the informal boss of the Indian mafia.

The book uncovers the journey of this don. Though the book is not a fiction, more of a chronicle which puts forward how he got into mafia bossing, what kind of child was he in his middle-class family, and many other aspects that all resulted in shaping him as the enemy of public. By all ways, it is a gritty read – as usual stories of underworld dons are always exciting.

The writing doesn’t stand out but the story itself is so gripping that writing style reduces to an auxiliary value. The author used a load of old-fashioned words, probably to give the feel of a novel and not a collection of news articles. No doubt the research material has been taken from old to new newspapers; the feel of a fictional book is missing. Readers can feel there is masala-journalism in it. Despite all that odd and awful narration, Zaidi deserves to be praised for the research he has done behind the book. He explains the modus operandi of gangsters and police. He presents tales which must have somehow survived in gossip. He has even added some very personal revelations about gangsters which include their lecherous sex lives and adultery.

In a nutshell, if you enjoy reading crime, Hussain Zaidi has compiled an excellent book. The way he described places, makes readers to imagine the scene going in the back of their head very clearly.

The book features Dawood as a person larger-than-life, which may upset readers to an extent. But it is not the writer's fault that Dawood is still at large living free from the Indian jurisdiction. It is the cleverness of his attitude and the failure of our system that today Dawood is the man that he is.

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