A fast-paced thriller on a fugitive trader

Title: Flawed: The rise and fall of diamond mogul Nirav Modi

Author: Pavan C. Lall

Publisher: Hatchette-India.

Price: Rs 300

Pages: 272

Nirav Modi is the stereotype Indian crook who did the loot-and-scoot to escape punishment. He is not the first and will not be the last to do so. Pavan C. Lall has delved into his interviews with the diamantaire to give a fascinating account of how the swashbuckling diamond trader made it big before escaping from India.

Modi, 48, is currently lodged in a British prison. He is wanted in India for allegedly cheating the Punjab National Bank of nearly USD 2 billion. The book traces Nirav Modi's early years when he dropped out of a swanky south-Mumbai commerce college to be groomed by his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi and the phenomenal success he achieved till his taste for the high life led to him to make a hell for himself from which he may never get out.. Based on personal encounters with Modi and replete with short sentences, the book maintains reader interest because of its mix of personal interactions with the diamond mogul and also on meticulous research. The author claims to "expose the incredible twists and turns of the Nirav Modi saga".

There are examples which prove the author knew Nirav Modi personally when he describes a blood-red ruby ring which Modi flaunted in his Kala Ghoda office during a personal encounter. The ring is worth six million dollars and added to the mystique built around the diamond trader. Modi was addicted to lavishing expensive gifts on his close friends which they probably must be treasuring now that the diamantaire is a fugitive.

A third-generation diamantaire, Modi, moved from Belgium to India and with time honed his skills under his shyster uncle to become an astute businessman whose firm grip over an intercontinental supply chain of diamonds saw his branded jewellery stores dotting every Indian metropolis and marquee locations abroad like London, New York and Hong Kong.

Modi's diamond-encrusted designs were worn by the glitterati. Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra-Jonas marketed the brand by appearing in advertisements while Hollywood stars like Kate Winslet, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Naomi Watts, did their bit for Modi.

The staccato sentences evoke suspense which spirals in Nirav Modi’s life. Lall shows he knows the tricks of his trade apart from the tricks he must have picked up from Modi by maintaining the pace and rhythm in his sentence construction and short words. The book is peppered with Modi-isms and personal anecdotes. Forbes magazine has stated Wharton-dropout Nirav Modi has a net worth of $1.73 billion. The book does give nuggets of information about Modi’s maternal uncle Mehul Choksi, the CMD of popular jewellery brand Gitanjali Gems, who has been holed in Antigua since the scam broke out.

To sum up, “Flawed” recounts in enthralling detail how one man’s ambition to be a global player can destroy the lives of millions by breaking the rules. Modi’s rise, his rule and his equally dramatic fall are given a blow-by-blow account in this fast-paced thriller.

By Dr Olav Albuquerque