Show Me A Hero
By Aditya Sudarshan
After the torturous experience of reading certain books of certain “new-age up-coming” Indian writers, when I was asked to review Show Me A Hero, I was full of inhibitions and skepticism. More so, the book revolves around cricket – one of the sports I don’t really like.
Before beginning to read, I did a bit of background check on Aditya. He seems to have already published a novel, a play, several short stories and he writes literary criticism for some publications. This did not really help me much since this was the first time I was reading his work, but none-the-less it did instill some faith in me to “start” reading. I mean, how bad could he be!? I lived through 50 pages of “Patyala…” didn’t I !?!!
I was absolutely dreading the first page. But when I started reading, I found myself getting comfortable with the flow, the characters and the plot. Couple of pages down and I knew I would finish reading it soon.
So the narrator, Vaibhav, is a fresh-out-of-college lad who lands himself a small time job with a wildlife organization in Delhi. He manages to seek (rented) accommodation in Mrs. Ramdas’ PatParganj apartment. This is where he meets his house mates – Kisle (an Assamese medical student), Arjun (a turban-less Sikh techie journalist) and Animesh.
Vaibhav’s life is monotonous and lull until he meets his college friend Prashant Padmanabhan, through Animesh. Prashant is a determined and a confident young man with strong ideas and a rich background. He decides to make a movie on his hero- a controversial old cricketer- Ali Khan. Khan had been defaced and victimized by certain religious sects. Prashant believes that it is important to reveal the truth behind the scandals. He gets his friends Sheila, Rohan, Gitanjali, and others to act for him and be a part of the small budget movie, managed by Vaibhav. When they start shooting things don’t really go easy. There are people who seem to dislike the very idea of making Ali Khan a “hero”. When the youngsters feel they are on-track, a mysterious murder brings everything to a standstill.
How the youngsters then face the situation and move ahead is what you should find out on your own. I’m not giving away the climax to this one.
The narrator (Vaibhav) comes across as a simple guy. He likes his work at the wildlife organization; he is happy with his girlfriend in Mumbai, Anita; and he is a keen observer of human nature. We see him emerge as an unlikely hero in the second half of the book.
Prashant is sharp, hedonistic and aggressive. The characters feel real when seen from different angles. Sometimes perceptive and sharp, sometimes laid back and silly. It takes them through a path of self-discovery and courage and belief. The description of places, people and situations is very well penned.
The only thing that bothered me was the pace. It is a pretty slow moving murder-mystery/thriller. It could have done with some wheels I guess. But the suspense is quite gripping. The language is simple and easy. Even the long sentences are easily digestible. Aditya shows good writing skills and holds your attention.
Thankfully this “coming-of-age” novel isn’t about love, campus, girls, and the “regular” experiences of writers. This one is “hatke”.