Try as I might, I cannot help but read the title of the latest thriller from Mukul Deva as Rest In Peace. Forgive me my blunder but now that I have finished reading the book, I have restructured my slip to mean RIP, corruption. (Hah! Take that you evil problem eating away at the country’s progress.) When you decide to read RIP, there is only a very slim chance that you would want to take a break anywhere along the way. The book races forward at such pace, I wouldn’t be surprised if it leaves behind a few disheveled heads in its wake.
Mukul Deva’s RIP is a huge what-if. It tells the story of the vexation that a group of ex-Army men arrive at, post their brush with the corrupt democracy that reigns over the country. Set in present day India, the book introduces to us the Resurgent Indian Patriots or the K-Team, led by Col. Krishna, comprising his comrades out of service, all bearing names that begin with the letter K. Krishna and his team operate based on loyalty and commitment which apparently is absent when it comes to how politicians run the government. After a sour encounter with corruption revolving around a personal loss, Krishna and team decide to shake the system up a bit, in a bid to support the efforts of one Mr. Hazarika, who has taken it upon himself to wage a war against the problem. This results in a series of calculated and well planned assassinations that the team has no difficulty executing.
Threatened by the fear of death and of losing face, the Home Minister hires, Ragav, a rogue and corrupt ex-Army man to hunt down the RIP team. Caught in the middle of this crossfire is Reena, a reporter with the NDTV and also to be ex-wife of Ragav, who takes to the widower Krishna. In an edge of the seat climax, the K-Team decides to deliver one final and deep blow. You find out in the last chapter if they succeed and what happens thereafter.
That said, let me get down to my analysis.
What Worked for Me:
1 – The pace of the story, which was nothing short of terrific. The story does not halt anywhere. It’s a rollercoaster ride from start to finish that will leave you exhilarated.
2 – Certain scenes that were cleverly set and thoroughly enjoyable, like for example this point where Krishna, Ragav, Reena and Vinod, the cop out to get the RIP, are all travelling on the same plane within calling distance of each other. The hunter, prey and predator all together!
3 – Narration that was easy and fluid. There was nothing pretentious about the text and no prose trying falsely to sound intelligent.
What Did Not Work for Me:
1 – At the beginning of the book, when the K-Team knocks off a couple of people, we have a few characters making some clichéd predictions as to the identities of the killers. This sounded forced to me, as if the author was in a hurry to let the cops assume certain things to save a few pages of print.
2 – On the same note, I felt the romance between Krishna and Reena, though developing nicely toward the end, started off on a contrived note. It ended up coming across as a love story hurriedly stuffed into an action movie. Case in point : Reena recognizes the perfume that Krishna wears as the same one that Ragav used to wear. In the very next scene, Krishna’s son tells his father that Reena aunty wears the same perfume as his dead mother. The author could’ve taken some time to think the romance through. Case 2 in point : Krishna’s sister Payal as a matchmaker. It was almost as if the author wrote down a formula and fitted people into it.
3 – Certain actions or the absence of them were not justified. For example, in the entire climax sequence Vinod, does not call his team for backup and follows the killers on his own. This is mentioned as a slip initially citing the excitement of the moment. But the same happens thrice in total within the next few minutes, which does not tally. The same goes for the security officer at a VIP target’s house not informing her of an impending assassination attempt. Why he does not get to it is explained with very silly reasons. The intent behind these slips was probably to isolate the required characters into the final act, but without justification, they just came across deflated.
4 – The very weak attempt to fictionalize the current Indian political scenario with characters in the book. Or was it an attempt? I felt it would’ve worked better if the names had been fictional as well. A little more imagination, like Shashi Tharoor’s The Great Indian Novel. I still grin over ‘Comea’ for ‘Goa’.
RIP is well written, unpretentious, racy and engaging. The plot will address the ‘if only’ that makes your blood boil everytime a fight against corruption fizzles out. Definitely top of my list amongst recent contemporary works in the commercial genre.
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