I have been playing ibibo`s social game Mumbai Underworld for a month now, and it is very addictive. I didn`t start playing this game by choice. One day, I noticed Siddharth Sethi, a colleague of mine, leave this status update: “I own a dance bar, 3 strippers (good earners all) and 3 rifles. Finally life’s starting to look good!” This made me think. “I need to get a good life…I need to be in Mumbai Underworld,” I told myself before starting to play the game. (Play the game here)
Mumbai Underworld is after all only a game. But well before that -when I was young and could jump over walls quick – I was actually a Mumbai Underworld figure. I wouldn`t go to the extent of saying what Amitabh Bachchan said in the Hindi movie Hum, “Mera aur eak naam hai…Tiger!”, but let me tell you that I was once called a ‘Cat`. Back then I was a 24-year-old surviving the streets of Mumbai. Don ishtyle.
Here goes the story, but before that watch this really interesting bit from the Bollywood movie Hum, featuring Amitabh, Rajinikanth & Govinda.
Having run away from Madurai, Tamil Nadu to Mumbai to become a Bollywood Hero, and having been piped to the post by a not-so-famous guy called Rajnikanth in the movie Hum, I was desperate for a quick movie role. For anybody desperate and lonely enough in Mumbai, the Chowpatty is a good place to go.
When I was wiping my tears sitting on the Chowpati, a gentleman approached me.
“Alone at Chowpatty? Your life must be lonely. Want a girl?”
“Leave me alone. I don`t want anybody now!” I blurted out angrily.
“Tired and desperate, is it?” He seemed very considerate now.
“Yes sir. But how do you care?”
“I do. Wanted to become an actor, is it?” He knew what I came to Mumbai for.
“Yes sir. What will I tell my parents now? How will I marry off my two sisters?”
“You don`t need to be an actor to be rich. You know Sachin Tendulkar, right?”
“Anyway, do you want to become a sports mechanic?”
His question surprised me. I didn`t know what sports mechanic did. But I was curious.
“Sir, pray tell me. What does a sports mechanic do?”
“A car mechanic fixes the car; a train mechanic fixes the train. So what do you think a sports mechanic does?”
“Precisely,” he had a smile on his face.
“No sir, I am bad at anything that`s so organized. Please give me alternatives.”
“Son, let me advice you… organized or unorganized…crime is the only thing that pays in Mumbai – probably because it isn`t run by the Government. If crime were also run by the Government, it would have stopped paying long back.”
“So?” I was getting impatient.
“So…join my gang. I believe in fresh, record-less faces.”
The very same day I got inducted into his gang and was trained in the art of street living. The next day, I was positioned near an ATM in Bandra.
If you have had a good education & upbringing, it is difficult to be an effective criminal. The moment I saw a 60-year-old man come out of the ATM with his wallet stuffed with cash, I told him, “Excuse me sir! I will be your robber for today. How much would you want to part with today?”
The 60-year-old smiled and walked away. The 12 other potential clients that I approached that day did the same. One even said, “You are funny, dude!”
After two days of unsuccessful operations in front of the ATM, I got assigned to the Jewelry Division. On day one of chain snatching, my count was two successful attempts – not a bad start considering there were so few old age homes in the Bandra area. I did this for a week, after which the number of elderly with gold chains around their necks and wheel chairs to their bums came down drastically. Now, my boss asked me to move to bigger things. That`s when I opened a jeweler`s shop at 9 a.m. on one Monday. The jeweler instead of being thankful called the police.
This incident resulted in a loss of face for me within the gang, and I was put in CC Division. For those that don`t understand the criminal lingo, let me assure you that CC Division is Counterfeit Cash Division, where our job was to print counterfeit cash and distribute. I was making big money. Don`t believe me? Then why did the police arrest me for printing & distributing 500 rupee notes that were 1 inch wider?
When in jail, a CBI inspector approached me and said he could put my innocent face to better use my making me a police informer. After he told me that all I had to do was help him trace the criminals, I agreed. The next day he accused me of doing a volte face, whereas all I had asked him for was some tracing paper and photos of the criminals he wanted me to help him trace.
The CBI Police Inspector got offended and decided to file all cases that they hadn`t solved in the last 20 years against my name. It didn`t matter that I was now only 24 years old and couldn`t have committed a bank robbery when just 4-years-old.
A week later, I was bundled into a Police van and taken to the district court in Jalgaon. Before the judge entered the court, I was given a card and Gita to hold. I was told that after the judge came, I was expected to keep my right hand on the Gita and read out what was written on the card. I practiced reading what was written on the card. It read, “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”
But when the judge entered the court, I panicked and kept my right hand on the card and started reading the Gita. Since the judge had never seen an educated criminal, he was mighty impressed with my recitation of Gita. It took me six days to complete the Gita, during which the court adjourned at least 43 times.
Everybody let out a deep sigh of relief when I finished the Gita and the judge ordered the lawyers to start the indoor duel. After a long duel of words, during which I almost fell asleep, the judge asked the Jury to convene and convey its decision.
The Jury came back with its verdict. They said I was guilty of 19 of the 20 criminal cases against me.
At this point, the judge turned towards me and said, “Would you want to challenge the Jury?”
I looked around, noticed that all of them were well-built….and then said: “No sir, can`t challenge them together. But if you are fine with a one-on-one, I don`t mind taking on that lean gentleman in the corner.”
For some reason, the judge started staring at me and sentenced me to six years in prison.
For the six years in prison, all the huge, gay long-term prisoners drew cat whiskers with char coal on my cheeks every day. Now you know why I was once called “Cat”.