KiKiRa The Great

I’ve been fortunate enough to be nestled into the world of Bangla Literature in my formative years. I had begun reading magazines and novels for children even before I turned ten. The joy of holding a freshly printed periodical magazine at least once a month and glancing through the pages to skim the content before rushing off to school was incomparable. Calcutta has carried a rich tradition of interesting magazines for children, young adults as well as adults. The ones, especially for pre-teens were a huge treasure of informative articles, short stories, poems, comics and sports. Anandamela, Shuktara, Kishore Bharati, Kishore Gyan Bigyan, Sandesh – there were so many to choose from each fortnight! The most popular among these, Anandamela was from the ABP house of publications – it was bourgeoisie, glamorous, rich in content and had great print quality priced at Rs 10 for each issue.

kikira

The annual pujabarshiki Anandamela 1996 and the Kikira novel published in it (on right)

The fortnightly and annual Pujabarshiki issues of Anandamela introduced me to Kikira The Great by Bimal Kar. No, he isn’t Japanese and is almost not a detective. KiKiRa stands for Kinkar Kishore Ray, a brilliantly crafted pseudo-acronym to enhance his identity. He is a self-proclaimed magician who had a target of at least a hundred magic shows in his lifetime but was stopped short at only thirty six of them due to an illness. A sudden bout of disease disabled one of his hands and made it impossible for him to perform on stage again. He called himself ‘Kikira The Magician’, ‘Kikira The Wonder,’ ‘Kikira the Great,’ and still had a few tricks up his sleeve that effervesce in all of his cases. Kikira has two assistants, a young clerical fellow named Tarapada and a doctor of medicine, Chandan. The evolution of this apparently lopsided friendship between the three occurred during a case for the first time. The first story in the Kikira series – Kapalik-ra Ekhono Achhe (Tantrics Still Do Exist) – began with Tarapada and Chandan as the main protagonists, Kikira only making an entry later with a burly introduction! I think the author wanted to experiment, improvise and give a trial with the readers to see if they accept such an offbeat character.

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Book Review : The Price You Pay

Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

Blurb view:

An ambitious rookie reporter, a veteran news editor with a secret, a trigger-happy policeman, a sensational kidnapping: The Price You Pay is the story of Delhi, told through the eyes of the journalists who frame it, and the outsiders who claim it.

When Abhishek Dutta joins the Express as a trainee journalist, he has no idea how his life is about to change. Assigned to the crime beat by chief reporter Amir Akhtar, Abhishek encounters a motley cast of characters: DCP Uday Kumar, the ‘Dirty Harry’ of Delhi Police; ACP Crime Branch Mayank Sharma, who becomes a close friend; Samir Saxena, channel head of News Today, who mentors Abhishek’s move from print to electronic journalism; and dreaded gangster Babloo Shankar, who runs the Delhi mafia from exile. As he rides his beginner’s luck to unearth one sensational scoop after the other, Abhishek will soon discover that in the dog-eat-dog world of crime and politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies; it is every man for himself.

With a plot that twists and turns like the inner lanes of the city, Somnath Batabyal’s debut novel takes you into the dark underbelly of India, where common lives are mere pawns of deadly power games and where corruption lies at the very core.

Review:

Winter has arrived, mostly or at least lurking at the door here. All you need is a fast pacy thriller to cuddle under blankets with coffee. I was looking for a good desi thriller on investigative journalism and Somnath Batabyal seems to have launched a great one for his debut. Investigative journalism, or what we commonly term as ‘crime reporting’ is a tough job. It sounds easy and looks good to people like us, the daily readers who follow a newspaper crime colmn or turn on some news channel for that handsome reporter.

We have been brought up on thrillers and mafia books based radically in Mumbai with pioneer books like Shantaram and Sacred Games. I for one, would love to read more about gangsters and journalists based in the other metros like Delhi and Calcutta. These cities are stereotyped with softer labels but they have very active mafia operations with key activites like kidnapping and extortion.

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