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Book Review: The Boar Hunt by V.M. Devadas

Originally written in Malayalam as Pannivetta by V.M. Devadas, and translated in English by Prabha Zacharias. The novel – the Boar Hunt – is a terrific read backdropped against the serene beauty of 1980s Kochi. The scaffold of the novel deals with gangsters and mafias and local dons. In particular the novel is staged against a set of gangsters who ruled Kochi in 1980s. There are no proper protagonists and antagonists. The storyline has a self-actuating pace and it is controlled and steered by a Jewish Russian lady named Grusha. She is sent by some unknown company to conduct a Russian Roulette for six gangsters. She in person meets all through her cab driver Musafir, who once was part of the mafia mechanism.

Musafir, Albert, Lothar, Mustafa, Arumukhan, Getto, Raul, Satheeshan…are some prominent gangsters, their stories run silently throughout the book. In addition to these, Bappu is another powerful character who repents his Karmic deeds when confronted by Grusha. But he should be joining the Roulette?

The author has shed proper light on their making and family history. In patches you may try to find a hero that will conclude everything for you towards the end, however, the narrative deals with many characters and eventually you come to know that how they landed up in the mafia profession and what was their intention to participate in a deadly Russian Roulette. It’s their choices and circumstances that steer people towards the untoward heinous line of work of gangsters.

The Boar Hunt traverses through the tensed ambience of Kochi, post emergency declared by one of the Indian prime ministers. Not the entire story is set in 1980s, as the Russian lady tries to meet and setup a Roulette…that takes place in contemporary times. The broader theme is a bit difficult to understand yet it fosters peace…and it can be brought at any cost. Had it been more interesting if the company’s background was given? Anyway human aspirations and trepidations are natural when it comes to fear of death and thinking about outpacing one another.

Loads of suspense and entertainment unfolds in the end pages when The Star of David is formed and participants finally get to see each others’ rivals.

It’s a different type of novel with Indianism, and away from Bombay’s Mafiagiri. Somewhat same as seen in Bollywood and Tollywood movies, yet it is silent and subtle free from sanguinary campaigns.

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