I recently downloaded the Juggernaut app on my mobile phone. Juggernaut boasts of an extensive-book collection, all by Indian Authors. The objects of my fancy have been books which claim to possess gore, manic-depresssive villains, obsessive, murderous side-characters and stoned,washed up lead characters. Juggernaut has yet to disappoint me in my noble pursuit of lapping up such inedible content.
Arnab Ray a.k.a Greatbong, needs little introduction. He is one of India’s widely read bloggers and blogs at Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind. Someone suggested that I should read this book.
The Mahabharata Murders is a grisly and gory account of a Serial Killer- who believes that he is in-fact the reincarnation of the Kaurava King – Duryodhana.
Mahabharata has been a much talked about & much admired epoch for Hindus. It also has ample ammunition for someone with a Machiavellian bent of mind. This is the theme that Ray forwards in his book – skillfully and slyly. No wonder then, that even the chapters in the book are titled after the Pandavas.
Ray’s strength lies in giving a modern-day definition to the epochal characters of the Mahabharata – replete with their qualities and vices. So, the visionary Sahadeva has been given a contemporary equivalent. Draupadi also finds her moral doppelgänger in the novel – albeit with a diabolical tweak.
The setting of the tale is in Kolkata, which has lent itself fabulously in films to depiction of all that is noir. Ray paints the canvas in shades which tend to be in grey and black. Nothing is what it seems in the book.
The core strength of the book lies in the topsy-turvy world of its characters and the eerie reality which it exudes.
At the center of this trapeze is Inspector Ruksana Ahmed, homicide detective in the Kolkata Police Force. Partnering her is brawny Siddhant Singh, who is also the unfettered object of her dark affections.
Both are investigating murders, which appear to be the handiwork of a serial killer who is high on using Mahabharata imagery in his work. The victims are compared to the Pandav characters – Draupadi, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahdeva.
At the other end of the spectrum lies the character of Pavitra Chatterjee a political heavyweight who carries an image of transparency and truth. He is indubitably Yudhishthira or Dharmaraj.
There are other side characters in the array – who serve their purpose quite well.
Will Ruksana succeed in solving the Mahabharata murders and be able to bring the criminal to justice? The answer to this question – you will most likely not get. You have to be on guard throughout the book to sift through the machinations happening. However, justice is served, by the time one finishes the book, since it respects your need as a book reader to find out the guilty parties.
Ray has brought out the character of Ruksana Ahmed with a flourish. It is neither garish nor it is overtly apologetic. Ray seems to be coluring outside the lines, but boy does he get it right!
The character of Pavitra Chatterjee is also one which deserves a special mention. The complexity of this character is brought out in a striking manner and it deserves a lot of credit.
Coming to the business end of this review, if you are like me and are in constant search of breaking away from the mundane, this book is highly recommended!
Verdict : 4.5/5
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