Raghav is an ordinary seven-year-old growing up on the ‘good’ side of Colaba in downtown Bombay, India. His family is one of modest means and his life doesn’t allow for many luxuries or indulgences and even at his young age, he is starting to realize that his life could be a lot better; his overly strict, authoritarian father rules the family with an iron fist and dominates his gentle, caring mother, mostly over money matters; his school friends taunt him for not being rich and cool like them; he doesn’t have any friends his own age who can offer company and fun. His is a safe, protected world and he is kept well away from the ‘other’, darker side of Colaba, which nevertheless, holds a deep fascination for him with its colorful, busy alleys bustling with activity, people and mystery – the ‘real’ world as far he is concerned. His small world opens up suddenly one day when, in the midst of the communal riots in Bombay in December 1992, he ends up saving the life of Faisal, a Muslim boy his own age. His act of kindness leads to a lifelong friendship with Faisal and his friends, who all live on the ‘other’ side. He starts secretly spending time on those forbidden streets and discovers a whole new world of camaraderie, warmth and color.
But life has other plans and Raghav’s entire world comes crashing down one day. In the space of a few crucial hours, his childish innocence is ripped away brutally, and he also loses the one person who may have made his world right again – his mother. That fateful day alters the course of his life and the ‘other’ side is the only place he can escape his now truly miserable home life and his bitter father who he resents more and more each day. He never tells even his closest friends about the horrific abuse he suffered the day his mother died, the day a fierce, burning anger took root in his very soul.
Now, 20 years later, all his peers and friends are settling down into jobs and the business of growing up. But Raghav is still trapped between his now suffocating relationship with his father, his own inability to find a job and make a life for himself and the painful memories of his childhood ordeal that still haunt him. And this is
when he meets Rani one day, an orphan beggar girl who knows life on the streets of Mumbai, but not in the way Raghav does. He wants to ‘save’ Rani from the beggar mafia and give her a chance at a better life. His strong need to stand up for something, to truly help someone is fueled by the recent Nirbhaya gangrape case in New Delhi, that evokes painful memories of his own past trauma.
Set in Bombay in 1992 and Mumbai in 2012, and inspired by true events, Diary of an Angry Young Man is a coming-of-age urban drama that explores the complex layers of humanity. And the city that engenders them.
1) What is your book about, in 150 words or less?
Diary of an Angry Young Man is inspired by true events and the protagonist is based on a real person. The book is set in Bombay in 1992 and Mumbai in 2012, the latter around the time of the Nirbhaya rape case, an incident which had shaken the nation and moved it to anger. Among these angry people is one ordinary angry young man whose anger and actions bring him under the radar of both the police and the beggar mafia. In addition, he has unemployment and a volatile home environment to contend with. Through his journey, we see how a disturbed childhood can lead to an unfocused and unstable adulthood. And how hope and clarity can come from the most unexpected of people and places. The genre of the book is Coming-of-Age/Crime/Drama.
2) What is something that stands out about your book?
The book is based on a real person, an unsung hero who goes beyond his sense of security to make things right for an unexploited young beggar girl otherwise looked upon with casual disregard and as an eyesore by society. A quote from the book, “Everyone is the hero of their own story, but how many are the hero in someone else’s?”
3) What made you want to write this book?
When I was a kid, there was one particular young man in the area close to where I lived, who had become a figure of childhood folklore of sorts and we knew him only by his nickname. He had achieved a high level of recognition, given the issues he stood up for and the scraps he got embroiled in. He seemed destined to go nowhere in life.
I visited the area years later as an adult, and was surprised to learn about how life had completely turned around for him and his current vocation. His unique journey revealed him to be an unreasonable and fearless man, and I admired his resilience and goodness of heart despite the cards that life had dealt him. I felt compelled to tell the surreal story of this angry young man.
4) You say this is your fourth book, what are your other three?
I am M-M-Mumbai, HiFi in Bollywood and Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai. In addition, my short story, The Mysterious Couple, was featured in a nonfiction anthology – Something Happened on the Way to Heaven and another short story, Kaala Baba, in India’s first urban horror anthology – City of Screams. My other short stories include The Saas-Bahu Conflict which was published in the HBB Horror Microfiction Anthology and In Your Eyes in Tell me Your Story’s LGBTQ anthology Pride, Not Prejudice : Decriminalising Love.
5) If this book was optioned to be a movie, who would you like to see playing some of the main characters?
At this point, I could only think of Bollywood actors. But if it were to be an international film, Dev Patel would fit the bill.
6) Which character is most like you personality wise?
Inspector Amar Satpute. He wants to set people on the right path but understands that there has to be a well-planned strategy in place if one is to achieve a permanent solution. Inspector Amar Satpute is a character that has appeared in two my previous books as well.
7) What was your biggest challenge in writing?
I live in a busy and noisy city where silence is a luxury. I long to be able to right in complete silence. Of course, there are other challenges that crop up here and there but this one tops the list.
8) What is something you want everyone to know about your book?
Colaba is a prime and touristy area in downtown Mumbai, which put the city on the world map when the Taj Mahal Hotel and other landmarks were under siege by terrorists in 2008. There has always been a curiosity and mystery surrounding Colaba and this book somewhat unravels that. It takes the reader not only into the modest by-lanes and mindsets of the residents there, but also focusses on the ‘other side’ – the dark underbelly of the area.