I am M-M-Mumbai

by Rishi Vohra

Read time: about 4 minutes

My father is an ex-Mumbaikar. He lived there for almost three decades. My cousin lived his entire childhood there before moving to Bangalore. So many years of being away from Mumbai hasn’t changed how they feel about the city. I would not blame Rishi Vohra for sounding the way he does in his novel.

The copy that I read was a review copy, which I got in return for the promise I made to Rishi that I would give an honest review. I was told right in the beginning that this was a mass-market fiction drama. It is not a genre I would pick on my own. But I wanted to give this a shot. I’m saying this because it affects the perception of my review. In other words, if you like mass market fiction, you are reading a review by someone who doesn’t usually pick it. Be warned.

Cover page

I did not quite like the cover. it features a young man staring at the Bandra-Worli Sealink, unsure. Overall, the scene is grey. The text is black. It would not catch your eye.

I did not see much of a link with the story line either. It seems like two (or probably more) stock images stuck together, with some (lazy) Photoshop work.

I thought, instead of simply criticising the work, I would rather say what could have been done better: the contrast between the text and the picture could have been better. Also, the picture used should have depicted a scene or something from the story. An example of such a cover would be that of Serious Men.

Content

Bollywood. Drama. Emotions. High contrast between good and bad. Conclusive comments. (Mild) sexism. Weak heartbreaks… Basically, what you have been seeing in the Bollywood movies over the last several decades.

Rudra works as an assistant director with a thankless crew. He has blind faith in the industry as well as the city. His father disapproves of his attitude, his mum finds it endearing. His mum is protective, loves him unconditionally.

A few pages later, almost at the beginning of the “Second Act”, Rudra’s life starts to fall apart when “the unexpected” happens and he goes spiralling down the rabbit-hole of depression. If Bollywood introduced this book, it would say, ‘The story is about how he overcomes his deficiencies and comes out of the rabbit hole only to shine like the sun, second to none.’

It’s the same story you have read or heard or watched since your teenage. The flavour is the same. The core is the same. The topping colour is different.

Characters

Rudra is the protagonist. And then, there is:

  1. The crush
  2. The best friend who cares unconditionally
  3. The friend, the bond with whom is unexplainable
  4. The villain humiliator
  5. The stupid Alpha who lives in his own world (and obviously, rules it)
  6. The manipulator
  7. The father
  8. The mother
  9. The other best friend who is a guy who later becomes a sidekick

It’s the full Bollywood package. “Bittersweet love story”, in Malini Agarwal’s words.

Language

The language is next-door-ish. While there is nothing wrong with that, I did not like how the formal and the informal mixed with each other with no apparent reason. The switch between written and spoken language seemed confused. Also, the book seemed to follow both, the British and the American flavours of English. I somehow keep seeing this trend in Indian self-published books, and it worries me. Please change the defaults in Microsoft Word. Stick to one—any one—flavour.

My suggestion, get a copy of Oxford Spelling Dictionary.

Good points

You get a decent look into the world of Bollywood, since this book itself is about Bollywood. I did not know anything about C-grade movies. This book introduced me to it.

Bad points

Let us instead call this “things to improve”.

The language is very weak. Just because the standard of audience is going down (as shown by how Chetan Bhagat is a big hit), it does not mean writers reduce their standards. If Bollywood is still in the Seventies, it is because of this attitude.

British and American English are two different things. Mixing them is not Indian English, as I’ve pointed out before.

The typesetting feels amateur, enough to rile up any typographer, who would point out that this is default Microsoft Word, and it comes in the way of reading. For example, either use a first line indent or leave space between paragraphs. Don’t do both. This gives the wrong idea to a brain that is used to reading.

The story is too predictable. I read each sentence because this is a review copy. If I had bought the book, I would’ve skimmed through the pages.

Overall

It’s a nice story, but I know this story already. Everyone does. I felt mass-market fiction also should move to the next gear, like every other genre has. This is an important point that separates literature from religion.

Whom do I recommend this to

Bollywood buffs.

I think I will end the review here. The book should probably undergo a few changes.

Go ahead, grab yourself a copy of I am M-M-Mumbai and tell us what you think about the book! If you are a Kindle person, ensure to select the Kindle edition of the book.

I am M-M-Mumbai

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Ram Iyer

Writer, PowerShell addict, typographer, self-acclaimed rationalist.

Bangalore, KA ramiyer.me