A love story, a superhero account, or the tale of struggle of a man who finds it difficult to adjust to the society? Call it whatever you wish to, because Rishi Vohra’s debut fiction ‘Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai’ does full justice to each of these descriptions.
Rishi Vohra had a successful career in the Indian entertainment industry. He completed a Green MBA from
and a Masters Diploma in Environmental Law. He recently relocated to Mumbai. He
has written guest columns for many Indian newspapers. Interestingly, he is also
a Certified Specialist of Wine and currently writes for delWine. San
Francisco State University
‘Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai’ starts with the narration of Balwant Srivastav, or Babloo, as he is called by others. The first few pages serve as an introduction to the protagonist’s character as Babloo plainly states how he is described as autistic, schizophrenic and psychotic by the doctors, his family and his friends. He lives with his parents and Raghu, his younger brother, in the railway colony located next to the Bandra station in Mumbai. However, he is often neglected by his family, resulting in a gaping loneliness that has grown in magnitude over the years. Babloo converses with his own self at times, who he believes to be his only true friend, and tries to figure out the answers to queries that are too difficult for him to comprehend.
The only person who understands Babloo and likes to spend time with him is Vandana, a resident of the same colony. Babloo secretly admires her and is in love with her. He dreams of a beautiful future with Vandana in a house by the sea. However, he finds it difficult to emote and is clueless regarding expressing his feelings towards her. This is when Sikander, the bad guy, enters the scene. He falsely promises Babloo that he would convey his message to Vandana, and in the process, devises plans to get closer to her.
Babloo, frustrated by his own lack of identity, and eager to make Vandana proud of her and win her heart, dons the character of Rail Man, a superhero-type guy who patrols the railway tracks in order to find and save people who might be in trouble. In the process, he beats up the trouble-maker and rescues several victims from danger. However, unfortunately, he is perceived by the politicians and the police as a danger to the society and they do not hesitate in referring to him as a criminal who has taken the law on his own hands.
There are several subplots in the novel, and the author should be credited for giving proper attention to each one of them. The Raghu – Vandana, Sikander – Vandana and Sonal – Sikander stories flow seamlessly in the backdrop, gradually assisting the progression as Babloo narrates his own tale of his search and longing for care, love and respect. Rishi does his best to go deep into the character of Babloo and successfully portrays the pent up anguish that dwells in the protagonist’s heart.
‘Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai’ is a heartwarming tale that helps you relate to the protagonist Babloo in more ways than one. We, as human, do face moments of depression and that sudden motion of aloofness at times, and that’s when we identify the Babloo hidden deep within us. Rishi Vohra’s emotional page turner is a truly satisfying read. Hope we see more such inspiring and unconventional storylines as debuts by aspiring authors in the literary world in near future.
Name: Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai
Author: Rishi Vohra
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Publication Year: 2012
Number of Pages: 272
My Rating: 4/5
Do checkout http://www.rishivohra.com for more details on the author and the novel.