Within just three weeks of taking up running, Rahul Jadhav could cover a distance of over 18 kilometres easily. Over the past few years, the 44-year-old has participated in over 20 marathons and running events. And while long-distance running is what he is hooked on to today, till a few years ago, Jadhav was dealing with an addiction of a different kind. “My mornings used to start with a drink, then I would moved on to drugs, followed by tranquilisers. That’s when I would hit the high I was chasing,” says Jadhav. “I would shit and puke blood, but each day was the same. Then, of course, there was always the fear of getting caught, or worse, shot and killed.”
In Gangster on the Run, Puja Changoiwala unravels the eventful life of Jadhav, who took to organised crime in the late 1990s, hit the highs and lows of a rollercoaster existence, before treading the path of reform. “I was aware that death was chasing me all the time. But how could I threaten someone and extort them for money if I was feeling scared? So, I made peace with the fact that there was a bullet with my name on it out there, and after that there was no fear,” says Jadhav.
The youngest of three siblings, Jadhav was born in Dombivli, Mumbai. And though he started out as a petty criminal, he soon graduated to extortions to fill the coffers of overseas gang lords. The substance-infused haze filled Jadhav with the feeling that he was invincible, until, inevitably, his luck ran out and he was caught.
After spending three years in prison, Jadhav, while working in a rehabilitation programme, discovered running. “It took me a few races to realise that running was for my own satisfaction. Then I started focusing on training, diet, sleep and recovery. It helped me get rid of a lot of negativity in my head,” he says. “My running begins where most others’ ends. The bar is set high and I don’t stop till I attain it.” In January 2019, Jadhav completed the DeAddiction Ultra Run, covering a distance of 1,475 km, from the Gateway of India in Mumbai to the India Gate in Delhi, in a fortnight.
As a former crime reporter, Changoiwala provides an intriguing insight into the glorified fiefdom of gunmen and their fleeting dreams. While the account follows a typical timeline of a gangster, easy money, love, betrayal, the fall and subsequent reformation, it could have shed a little more light on Jadhav’s transformation through running