Crime–The Key Ingredient
Saba Mahmood Bashir
THE BAWLA MURDER CASE: LOVE, LUST AND CRIME IN COLONIAL INDIA  by Dhaval Kulkarni HarperCollins, 2021, 259 pp., 399.00
December 2021, volume 45, No 12

12 January 1925
That Monday evening, Abdul Kader Bawla, a businessman and corporator in the Bombay Municipal Corporation, decided to go on a drive with his mistress Mumtaz Begum.
In the morning, Bawla was at his office at Chach Mohalla near Masjid Bunder. Later he met with some acquaintances and relatives before visiting the civic body’s office to attend a meeting and then proceeded to his sea-facing residence near Chowpatty.

The day has been hectic for Bawla, who had been chauffeured around in a black Studebaker by his driver Mohamed Shafi.

The strapping twenty-five year old merchant, landlord and textile mill owner, who was considered one of the richest men in Bombay, thought that the drive around the city with his beloved would perhaps be a fitting end to the day.

The book opens with the lines quoted above, with the infamous drive that Abdul Kader Bawla took with his lover, Mumtaz Begum, ending in his killing and the unsuccessful abduction of the latter.
Based on a sensational murder in 1925, the plot has all the key ingredients for a book on crime—a young rising businessman, a prince and a courtesan. In actuality, the sub-title of the book, ‘love, lust and crime’ sums it all.

Continue reading this review