Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: RIP



Title: RIP
Author: Mukul Deva
Publisher: Westland
Pages: 286







The cover was what got my attention. It showed a syringe pointing downwards and a bullet pointing upwards and the image of a commando flanking the middle and spilling over on to the back. Never judge a book by its cover, they say, but the cover of RIP by Mukul Deva invited me to pick it up and read it.


Fed up of the corruption and the increasing number of scams that rock the nation, Colonel Krishna Athawale, an ex-commando in the Indian army, puts together a band of loyal friends, all ex-para commandoes who have served with him in the 19th regiment, in a common mission to rid the nation of her ills. Identifying themselves as the Resurgent Indian Patriots (RIP, for short), these six men, calling themselves the K-team because their first names begin with K, make plans to strike at politicians whose scandals litter the front pages of newspapers. The act, they hope, will deter others from indulging in corrupt and unscrupulous acts.

Having killed three sidekicks of three corrupt politicians in three strikes held simultaneously in Delhi, Patna and Pune, they come to the attention of the media and the nation. Emboldened and certain that their cause is just, they announce to a TV channel the exact nature of the wrongdoing committed by the next three corrupt people they plan to kill next.

The announcement sends the political class, regardless of affiliation, into a tizzy. Security cover is enhanced as politicians make a desperate effort to protect themselves.

Even as the Central Bureau of Investigation conducts its investigation, the home minister initiates a private search by another ex-para commando, Raghav Bhagat, a rogue whose loyalty to his paymasters is unquestioned.

Despite these efforts, the K-team once again gets away with all three killings. But when the corruption continues unabated, the K-team decides to make one more strike, this time one so daring that it would shake the very ground beneath the feet of the politicians.

The action, however, is not limited to the political sphere, but encroaches upon the personal as well, as the lives of three of the protagonists, Krishna, Raghav, and the latter’s ex-wife Reena, who works at the TV channel, intersect.

The writing is consistently racy and quick, as long as it concerns the action parts. Deva certainly shows a firm grasp of the action narrative, but his sureness fumbles when he is describing the emotional sequences, displaying some tackiness.

The flashbacks are tedious. The slightest reference sees the lead characters hurtling down memory lane in revelations that are lengthy and pointless. This tendency is rather annoying, particularly when they are sitting on some pretty explosive action in the here and now. If those flashbacks were so important, they should have been dealt with separately and set off with asterisks.

Also, while it seems smart to say K-team and have a probability-defying occurrence of six people whose first names begin with K working together, it can cause a fair bit of confusion to the reader. Here the confusion is compounded, as midway through the book, Karan disappears, morphing into Kunal, then re-appears at the end.

For me the book could be divided into two peaks at the beginning and the end and a trough in the middle. This middle section of the book was characterised by poor writing and pathetic editing. Nothing much seemed to be happening here, other than the K-team making its plans and Reena and Krishna making up their minds about each other and a whole lot of unnecessary stuff about two young boys and their birthdays and football sessions. This was a great deal of excess baggage that undid the good work seen in the first part of the book. Suddenly it seemed as if Deva had forgotten that he was writing a thriller about vigilantes.

I almost gave up reading as I plodded through the middle. But the thought of completing the review led me to read on. Fortunately the climax of the book shook itself out of the morass and the pace quickened once again, proving Deva’s surefootedness in the action domain. The author showed himself capable of leading the reader at breakneck speed through to the end.

If only the deadweight around the middle could have been trimmed, this one would be a first-rate thriller throughout. 


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