Book Review: Gangster On The Run

Book: Gangster On The Run
Author: Puja Changoiwala
Publication: Harper Collins
Book cover Gangster On The Run

Films are a strong visual media that have a huge impact on young mind. And ‘Bhiku’ a name inspired from the character of gangster ‘Bhiku Mhatre’ of film ‘Satya’ was not the only thing that Rahul Jadhav adopted. ‘Gangster On the Run’ is Bhiku or Rahul Jadhav’s story.

Puja Changoiwala, an award winning journalist and author, who has worked as crime reporter for Hindustan Times and written extensively on gender, crime, human rights in national and international publications, brings her latest well researched story of  a reformed criminal in the book ‘Gangster On The Run’. Having interacted with criminals closely during her research, Puja aims to present the human story of second chances and redemption, through this story of a boy, who chose guns over books, power and money over values of family, whiskey, drugs and brothels over love.

Jadhav’s life story seems straight out of a fiction movie, only that it is true.

A non-fiction real life story of gangster Rahul Jadhav, the book documents the journey of a teenager from a humble family background who loved to paint and cycle in the neighborhood but found life as an extortionist and gangster more lucrative than what a college degree could give. A young boy disgruntled with monetary situation at home Rahul Jhadav, was drawn to the power and money that underworld commanded, found it fascinating and gravitated towards a life of crime. He chose continue his adventures in underbelly of Mumbai, ignoring his lover who implored him to change.

As he became more entrenched in the life of crime realized, Rahul discovered and realized the potential of internet. He trained himself to be tech savvy. He became more lethal and difficult to track down as he used internet to dig up information on industrialists and big wigs of cinema and to cover his tracks by using international phone numbers. His lust for power and money made him ruthless by the day and indispensable for the don.

But crime seldom pays in the long run. The story meanders through his personal life unraveling with his family disassociating themselves for his connection with the underworld and the love of his life leaving him for not amending his ways. He turned to alcohol and brothels in hope of filling the void  to get over his lost love.

His capture and subsequent abandonment by the Don brought a new twist in Jadhav’s life for worse. Schizophrenic, alcoholic, drug addict and disillusioned from the uncertainty and futility of the criminal life, Rahul Jadhav turned a new leaf.

Jadhav recalls Inspector Vijay salaskar, renowned encounter specialist, who was part of the team that had arrested him, telling him during interrogation “Men like you belong in coffin”.

His time in prison gradually made him remorseful and repentant. With a desire to resurrect himself and make things right , he turned to running. He felt the running liberate him of his demons. A counselor and champion of de-addiction he is also an ultra marathoner now. He has covered 10000 kilometres and ran the 2019 marathon from Gateway of India to India Gate and aims to break national marathon records.

The story gives a glimpse of underbelly of Mumbai and the constant cat and mouse chase between the crime branch of police and the criminals. A very engaging read, the story also puts forth the idea that many criminals chose to adapt the life but have the will to reform.

This book is a page turner indeed that the readers of thrillers will definitely enjoy.