Saturday, July 06, 2013

Review- Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai by Rishi Vohra

Goodreads Summary:

"Autistic. Schizophrenic. Psychotic…" 

"They" use these words to describe Babloo - the doctors, his family, his teachers everyone... except Vandana. She treats him the way he wants the world to see him. 

Mumbai... the city that defines his ultimate desires. Will it allow him the love and normalcy he so craves? 

Vandana... yearns for a soul mate to rescue her from the confines of the Railway Colony they all live in. Is she looking in the right place? 

Rail Man... a fearless, real-life hero who succeeds in doing all that Babloo secretly wishes to do... is Babloo his inspiration or... is it the other way around? 

A random twist of fate on Mumbai’s endless, serpent-like, jangling local train tracks ties all these characters together in a complex weave of love, heartbreak, and courage. 

Babloo draws the reader into his fascinating, heart-rending journey through the twisted, choked lanes of Mumbai, into an open space where he can finally exhale, be born again.


I had won Rishi Vohra's book, Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai on my buddy Ankita's blog, Booklok Coffee. When I first saw the cover of it, I thought it might be a regular run of the mill, Bollywood type romance. I'm not saying that it wasn't entirely unlike a Hindi movie, because it was. 
We have a hero, a heroine and a villain and everyone, in the end, gets what they deserve. But the way in which author Rishi Vohra has written the book makes it look more like a real life story than something that solely happens in movies. 
The story of Balwant Srivastav more fondly known as Babloo, Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai has a clichéd and happy ending, but the entire story from start to finish was something very different than anything I've read before, and it was different in a good way. 
Babloo has taken a place in my heart as one of those very few, special and unique characters that you don't normally encounter but when you do, they just make you want to love them. As we figure out later in the book, there are certain reasons why Babloo is the way he is. A major part of the book is from is point of view and it was refreshing, simple and utterly impressive. I loved how accepting, alright and natural he was about his quirks. Ignored as a child, he turns out to do things on his own and only returns home for food and sleep. Because of his differences from "normal" people, no one really pays him any heed and he doesn't know what it is like to be loved and wanted. 
The only love he has ever felt is towards his friend and railway colony neighbour, Vandana. Vandana, when she meets him, is with Babloo like she would be with any other human. She is kind, soft spoken and sweet. As an ambitious and mature working girl in Mumbai, she faces quite a lot of problems along her way. She had flaws, but who doesn't? There were times when I liked what Vandana did, and at the same time, there were instances when I wasn't very fond of her. 
Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai takes us straight into the daily life of Mumbai- the hub of India. Both Babloo and Vandana's fathers are working in the Mumbai Railway Office and have their homes in the Railway Colony. I really liked reading about the railways since as strange as it might seem, I have never used the Mumbai local trains but heard and seen lots about it. 
Aside from that, I also liked getting a glimpse into the genuine life of a lower to upper middle class Mumbaikar, equipped with all things good and bad. 
There were many secondary characters in the book and Rishi Vohra does an excellent job of giving each of these characters a strong role that ultimately weaves it's way into making the story real. Sometimes the book went from different point of views and it was thoroughly demonstrative to read from those POVs. Author Rishi Vohra's clear, easy to understand and simple writing meticulously changed pertaining to the thoughts of the character from whose point the reader is reading. 
Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai, apart from being a story about family, friendship and love, is also, in a very unique way that I find difficult to express without giving away too much information, a story about justice that's going to stay with me for a long time to come. 



  1. I have read the blurb and honestly I though it was too cliche but I can see from your review that it's not. It sounds like a really interesting read! :) Great review Sarika :)

    1. It was cliche but not totally cliche cliche, just the end bit was. Thanks, Tanja! :)

  2. it seems like a good and interesting read :) worth a try

  3. I'd only like to read it just to see how it's not a cliché. Nice review!

    1. That's reason enough to read it, Prerna. Thank you! :)

  4. nice review! and I agree with Prerna :)

  5. Well I guess it's nice that this one is a bit more realistic than your average Bollywood movie (as fun as they are). I'm definitely interested in this one after your review, especially with Babloo's character and with the message of the story. Nicely reviewed!!

    1. They are fun and this one was fun as well but with a lot more content and you'll love Babloo. Thank you, Aylee! :)

  6. It is quite Bollywood-ish, but like I said, very different at the same time too. Thank you, Aman!


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