Rs. 195 n pp 242
There's something unusual about the three independent stories in Piyush Jha's Mumbaistan - they read like movie scripts. Unusual but hardly surprising. For Jha, the movie maker, creating imagery comes as naturally as perhaps firmly holding chopsticks does for a drummer.
But the scope of his mastery is restricted to the common protagonist of all the stories - the city of Mumbai. The plots are riveting, no doubt, but the same can't be said about the themes.
Take, the last story, Coma Man, where Samir Khanna emerges from a coma after 20 years. As he goes back to the city, he is reminded of a charged mob, gangsters, police… Add two and two and you get Bombay circa 1993 yet again.
In Bomb Day, the ATS searches for a Pakistani terrorist who merged with the local populace on 26/11. The twists at the end of the stories make them interesting but the need for a crisper narrative is felt.
That Mumbaistan didn't make it to the Tata Literature Live Book Award shortlist this year shouldn't dampen Jha's spirit. He should be happy about making a promising debut and about being in possession of a dandy script.