Saturday, March 9, 2013

The curious case of "SAFAL APRADHI"

Ruminations on a rare novel.

This is NOT a typical 'Suniliyan' novel, in fact far from it. This novel belongs to the period when Sunil didnot have much of a 'character' baggage to carry, when Ramakant was yet to develop a Punjabi twang and the novels were oh-so-crispy. Those were the days when you could take out a 10 p coin and call somebody via a booth ( as per the story ), when Sunil could behave merely as a smart yet bumbling reporter and not the know-it-all, super detective at work, when even he had to depend on a certain Mr. Chatterjee to deliver legal counsel to those in distress.

Unfolding in just about a 100 pages, the pace of the story is break-neck, with many a twist and turn, that are bound to keep one on the edge of his seat. There is hardly any irrelevant piece or prop in the whole story. Even the mention of the most trivial-seeming situations and the most innocuous of props like a tumbler, end up playing an important role eventually.

During the course of the whole novel, Sunil is himself equally mystified as the reader, about the proceedings. Curiously, there is a total absence of the overconfident demeanour, which in later novels, became a trait of his, while contemplating over the case with Prabhudayal. Nor is there any in-your-face sort of bravery or smartness. Yes, the smart-talk is there, but in its rudimentary form, which barely gets noticed (thankfully !). In short, in this particular outing, Sunil is more of a character than a serial-hero.

But the most curious and undoubtedly the most interesting part of the story is its novel ending : where you are gearing to accept the identity of the criminal, as revealed by the author and are waiting for a summary of the repercussions of this revelation on other characters. But instead, what you get are doubts and more niggling questions cropping up and you start wondering again. By the end, the perpetrator of the crime is eventually identified but not unambiguously, not without leaving you with lingering questions that are never resolved completely. Hence you are never fully confident if justice was actually delivered.
This whole twist adds a certain amount of believability to the story and leaves a lasting impression on the reader.You end the novel with a tinge of sadness regarding the limitations of the whole legal and crime-detection system.

It surely deserves firstly, a read, for the thrill and the fantastic ending and also a little more fame than what it has actually received over the years.

pic : Surender Mohan Pathak, Author

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