February 6, 2013 by Preeks
RIP by Mukul Deva is a fast paced read, set in the current context of anti-corruption movements, hapless public, politicians who cannot be touched and the general epiphanies about change. The story is about a group of ex-army men who decide to take law in their own hands when numerous protests by activists have no impact on the political class. They turn vigilantes and challenge the Government head-on by assassinating the top brass and making a mockery of their so-called establishment. To counter this group, an alert politician engages a corrupt ex-army man, willing to stoop to any levels and in a story with many twists and turns, the race between the two groups turns nail biting. And finally, ends up in mission possible.
The good things first. Its a fast read. Whether you enjoy the story or not, you will definitely finish the book within 5 hours. Its engrossing, to say the least. The author has a clear objective, which is to paint the picture of an extreme situation, which we, as a nation, may end up looking at, if the political class does not clean up its act soon. The unlikelihood of such a story happening in real is a moot point, but the author does his job well. Compared to many Indian authors, the language is quite passable and the editing is also good. And most importantly, even though I started out skeptically, I ended up getting involved in the story and I think, most readers will. There are traces of Ludlum and Fredrick Forsyth like appeal and detail, which works for the book.
But I had a very basic problem with RIP.
I do not like stories which are based on current contexts, especially too recent and even more when the author does not make the effort to even mask the characters. Sample these characters from the book, for instance:
Anna Hazare + Arvind Kejriwal = Arvind Hazarika
Laloo Yadav = Lalit Yadav
A Raja = A Rajappan
and many, many, many more.
There is no harm in portraying real life people as characters. In fact, art imitates life, or is it vice-versa? But, the least the author could do was to not handpick names from the newspaper. For me, a writer’s work is many years of thought and hard work. I imagine them to think of an idea over a period of many years, nurture it carefully, build characters by observing people around them, and slowly, with great detail, mould a story that is worth telling. RIP seems to have been written in a haste, in a burst of anger, that may have spurt from watching Arnab Goswami a night too many. The love story that brimmed in the middle of the book seemed slightly out-of-place, especially since the book was trying to bring home a very serious point about corruption
All said and done, there is no taking away from the fact that the book is a page-turner. I was expecting more in terms of characters and story, but I can live with the fact that it does make some crucial points about the current political scenario and while, becoming vigilantes is not the solution, there is a need for an urgent fix to this problem of corruption.
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