Dongri To Dubai - Book Review

Dongri to Dubai

‘Dongri To Dubai-  Six Decades of Mumbai Mafia’ by Hussain Zaidi is the first of its kind book based on years of crime reporting, police documents and numerous interviews, on Mumbai underworld, the gangs of organized crime who started out small as smugglers and went on to become violent most wanted criminals in the modern history of the country. And it is most importantly the narrative of the making of Dawood Ibrahim, the don and the now declared global terrorist.

It encompasses the story around the mafia before Dawood- big names like Haji Mastan, Karim Lala, The Pathans; the Mumbai police using the then street thug Dawood to control the menace caused by the other gangsters; the rise of the son of a head police constable to unimaginable ranks in Mumbai mafiadom; the clout and network of the don extending from the police to the political insiders; ingenious ideas in smuggling that was replicated in the then Bollywood storylines; onslaught of terrible violence and gang wars, plotting of gruesome murders and outrages of the custody of the police which again Bollywood immortalized through its movie plots; and the escape from Indian shores in the 80’s to Dubai and subsequently to Pakistan years later. The book ends with Osama bin Laden’s killing by the US, but Dawood still lives and the story continues.

The book introduced me clearly and precisely to the prevailing world of mafia in India’s commercial capital. I seriously had no knowledge of the length and breath of the details, except that the killing of Gulshan Kumar, of the T-series fame in 1997 was schemed and executed by Abu Salem, an aide of Dawood Ibrahim. And a news here and there, tidbits about 1993 Mumbai blasts. What I didn’t know was the riots were triggered by the demolition of the Babri masjid by a mob of 70,000 led by Hindu extremists, egged by continuous political propaganda of vote-bank politics leveraging the mosque’s history in the city of Ayodhya. And the blasts, then deemed as the most audacious terrorist ploy on any soil, was the entry point of ‘jehadi’ mindset into India. Some events in history I knew, but what all sequence of events led to it was not in my knowledge. This book bridged that gap.

Bollywood was a medium the black money could be turned white. ‘Chori Chori Chupke Chupke’ was produced by an aide of Dawood, and all its actors and directors had been threatened to work in it. Renowned actresses of the time had been media-hounded for being in close connection with the dons – Mandakini, Nagma, Monica Bedi to name a few. And the book has many a cat-and-mouse chase of the Mumbai police and the most wanted gangsters, many encounters- most of them fake yet sanctioned by the police department to control the growing violence and murders in the city. Two of these memorable events led to ‘Shootout at Wadala’ and ‘Shootout at Lokhandwala’. There are many thrilling escapes from the intelligence and custody, audacious murders are point blank range (a result of inter gang wars and rivalry among the respective leaders), open-court shootings, hospital exits – all of which we have surely seen in a Sunny Deol or an Amitabh Bachchan movie. Strange that the ideas were picked from real events.

Dawood was listed in Forbes as the world’s top 100 most powerful individuals. With a clout in Dubai, with the Sheikhs and Pakistan, with the ISI, and many organized crime syndicates around the world including drug lords, big time smugglers and terrorist organizations, it was almost expected.

The book was first published in 2012 and has a sequel named ‘Byculla to Bangkok’, which focuses more on the aides of the don. An important book on crime reporting. That’s in by TBR pile.


  1. This is the first time I have heard about this book from your review and this really sounds intriguing. Even the book cover looks catchy, shall check this one.

  2. Looks like this book will be an interesting read.Thanks for the review.Will check it out.


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Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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