Thrilling Ride

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Mumbai Rollercoaster (Paperback) by  Rajorshi Chakraborti, book reviewIt goes up and down, hits the lows and then just when you think that it’s stopping it begins shooting up on the upward track. Rajorshi Chakorborti’s first young adults’ book, Mumbai Rollercoaster is set in the city in which he spent the formative years of his life. Of course, Mumbai has a lot going for it apart from this – the very size makes it a great sprawling landscape for cops and robbers chases. And it has an active underworld. According to Rajorshi, in Mumbai, ‘You get the feeling that at any moment, an adventure could begin’. There are streets to be explored on foot and on bicycle and interesting twists and turns of road. And this is the philosophy that he follows in his novel. With every chapter a new adventure begins.

Thirteen to fifteen year olds are bound to be riveted by the fact that the ‘hero’ Rahul’ has a girlfriend called Zeenat and the two of them are tiptoeing around Mumbai trying to find places to meet without their parents getting to know. They have ultimately settled for a building in the making in Khar, two streets from where Zeenat has her tuitions, and occasionally they meet in a mall since that is a public place and therefore above suspicion. This is a situation that a lot of teenagers have to face in conservative India and that is bound to win the book a lot of young fans.

Add to that the fact that it has all the ingredients that make for masala fiction – a dead body, corrupt cops, the system pitted against the youth and Rahul perennially on the run from situations that he stumbles into while he refuses to listen to his girlfriend’s good sense. Ultimately, inevitably, Zeenat also gets involved in the web of murder and conspiracy since, through the ideal foreign based match that her parents are trying to set up for her, she is entangled with a mysterious Big Brother kind of think tank that turns out to have roots in Mumbai, not to mention tentacles that include Rahul.

Yes, introducing that think tank does hold up the story somewhat while the reader wonders what it has to do with everything but at the end of it, it neatly dovetails into one of those all encompassing conspiracy theories that most people tend to accept unquestioningly.

Rajorshi’s book also points out that young men are not always in control of everything and occasionally young women may know better, which puts the gender balance at the teen stage on the level. And yes, even heroes in the making may have not so heroic friends with raging hormones who tend to get distracted by pretty young things and as a result put a lot of things in jeopardy. There’s also the 12 year old Ganesh, the gardener’s boy who plays the role of the hero’s trusty Watson, if you stretch it a bit, and who pops up like a deus ex machine at the nick of time.

What perhaps could have been avoided is the voice of the omniscient narrator who really does not add to the narrative.

Mumbai Rollercoaster by Rajorshi Chakraborti
Published by Hachette India, 2011

Buy book online
Buy book online
Mumbai Rollercoaster
by Rajorshi Chakraborti

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Written by Anjana Basu