A few years back, the case of the disappearance act of Bhanwari Devi, an ambitious woman who had developed intimate relationships with high profile politicians of Rajasthan and accepted the role of a moll in the lives of certain powerful ones, was in news. Even the trial for her murder had started despite the fact that her dead body was yet to be found.
Certain other cases similar to that of Bhanwari Devi have also been there in India during the past few years where an ambitious woman dared to play with fire for the sake of her ambitions and finally lost her life in the game of power, lust and betrayal. One such case was of Madhumita Shukla, a budding young poetess of U.P. who developed close relationship with a tainted politician – Amar Mani Tripathi and got murdered (on 09.05.2003). Hindi novelist – Ved Prakash Sharma made the life and the murder case of Madhumita Shukla as the basis of his thriller novel – Goonga (dumb).Goonga is not the story of a person who is actually dumb but the story of an honest and dutiful district and session judge who loses his desire to speak when he has to acquit certain murderers from his court due to lack of evidences against them. The most painful thing for him is that he himself was the eye-witness of the murder but whether as a judge or as a witness, he is not able to bring the culprits to justice and provide solace to the aggrieved who is the sister of the victim. Trapped in a conspiracy, she has been legally and medically declared insane and hence her statement bears no meaning in any court of law. Now the sincere and dutiful judge is feeling stuffy within himself with an unbearable burden lying on his conscience. And therefore, he becomes dumb for all practical purposes, not speaking a single word in addition to whatever is essential to say.
But the things cross the threshold of his patience when the little child of the aggrieved woman (so-called insane sister of the murder-victim) is also murdered. Now he decides to ensure justice himself through a carefully thought-out plan. His sets the ball rolling with the murder of a young poetess who was, in fact, a moll of high profile and criminal politicians and cops. She was a shrewd woman who used to prepare still photos and compact discs of the lovemaking activities of such people (when they were in her company in privacy) and then blackmailed them on as and when required basis. The judge starts his mission with the murder of that poetess-cum-gangsters’ (and supercops’) moll and that murder triggers a chain of carefully crafted murders of the people involved in the murder of the innocent person. He does not spare any such person who had gone scot-free through the law. However he does so by playing mind-games with the culprits.
The punchline of this novel (published on the cover page of the novel) is – Jiski Jubaan Par Taale Daal Diye Gaye Magar Jiska Rom-Rom Bolnay Laga Tha (his tongue had been locked but then each pore of his body had started speaking). Perfect, for the story has been written and the main character has been described the same way only. His anguish and stuffiness has been portrayed to be reflecting through his silence which is unbearable for his family members, especially his wife. It’s irksome for his wife till she is not aware of the trauma her husband has been undergoing but once she comes to know of the background behind the ‘dumbness’ of her husband, she starts adoring him.
The story has been written in the autobiographical or diary style which the wife of the protagonist narrates to the readers. And this style is very interesting as well as impressive because it presents the side of the wife with her feelings generated by the pinching silence of her husband and his indifference towards her. Through this, the author has quite skilfully explained the delicate relationship of a husband and a wife who have understood and stood by each other for decades but the new developments are creating cracks in the bridge between their hearts. The wife’s mindset has been portrayed quite realistically. The author has kept very impressive dialogues in the novel which compliment the storyline in the perfect way.
Despite being inspired by a real life incident, this is, after all, a piece of fiction. And hence the author has taken certain liberties which can be excused considering the overall quality of the novel. It can be the story of any honest and dedicated public servant of India. The protagonist of this story decides to go daredevil against the baddies and succeeds due to his sharp mind and the favourable situations. However many sincere and honest Indians in the real life are not that fortunate and they have to lose everything including their lives in their battle against corruption, crime and evil. This is not only a highly interesting novel but also a highly inspiring one.
The numerous twists and turns in the story keep the reader spellbound throughout the novel. The events after the murder of the poetess involve checks and checkmates between the criminals and the judge who has now tied a cerement on his forehead. There is not a single boring episode in the novel. The author has been the script-writer of a few Bollywood movies and he has penned the novel in that way only. Had a movie been made on this novel by a skilled director, it would have been a spectacular one. The author is not a highly educated one. Still the language (Hindi) used in the novel is spicy and pretty impressive.
Goonga can be termed as an underrated novel of this highly popular Hindi novelist who was the uncrowned king of Hindi pulp fiction during the eighties and the early nineties. Madhumita Shukla was murdered on 09th May 2003 and immediately the author picked up the threads to start writing this novel which got published in October 2003. The novel still appears fresh when read today, given the ever-deteriorating situation of law and order and ethical values in our country. The ones who can read Hindi and are willing to uplift their sinking spirits, should not miss reading this low cost novel.
Before I end this review, I produce a question that haunts me time and again. Why are certain (Indian) women not able to check their ambitions a bit and not to go too far in the corridors of power just on the basis of their youthful beauty and womanhood ? Whether it’s the unmarried Madhumita Shukla or the married Bhanwari Devi who has kids too, the question remains the same. Don’t such women understand that playing with fire may lead to burning of self also ? After all, once you start threatening (or blackmailing) powerful people on the basis of the evidences of their sexual activities, sooner or later, they will conclude that their survival lies in your elimination only. Why is this simple truth not realized by these overambitious women ?
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