Today is the birthday of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose who has been my idol since my childhood. The great son of India had arrived on the Earth exactly 120 years ago. He lightened up millions of hearts during his known life of 48 years and has been continuously lightening up billions of hearts throughout the world since then. Here’s the man who taught the youths never to lose hope and turn the tides on the opponents with sheer courage and conviction when everything appears to be adverse and negative. His life especially during 1941-1945 was a romantic one. Just like a fairytale. Unbelievable, yet true.
Hindi novelist – Ved Prakash Sharma can be considered as one of those billions who adore Subhash Babu. He had mastered the art of writing patriotism-soaked thrillers in the initial years of his authoring career. I have already reviewed his patriotic novel – Watan Ki Kasam (the oath of the motherland). The astounding commercial success and popularity of that novel instigated him to write its sequel. And for writing the sequel, he picked up the life of Subhash Chandra Bose as the nucleus to weave the story around. This sequel containing a lengthy narrative, got published in two parts – 1. Khoon Do Aazaadi Lo (give blood, take freedom), 2. Bichchhoo (scorpion).Being the sequel, Khoon Do Aazaadi Lo picks up the story-thread from the end of its prequel, i.e., Watan Ki Kasam and certain surviving characters of Watan Ki Kasam are carried over in Khoon Do Aazaadi Lo. However they are only peripheral in this novel and the crux of the story is made by the lives of the newly introduced characters. There’s a revolutionary organization in colonial India whose head is called Sardaar (chieftain) in whose leadership the patriots fight the ruling British. Though Sardaar controls the activities of the organization known as Kraanti Dal, he remains in touch with Subhash Chandra Bose and seeks his guidance in matters of the organization. Nobody knows the true identity of Sardaar which he discloses to Netaji only.
A young man Gagan and two young women – Neela and Dhara are significant characters of this story. They were buddies in college. Neela and Dhara were hand-in-glove friends. Gagan felt himself to be in love with Dhara, the swarthy girl while being ignorant of the fact that Neela, the fair-complexioned and gorgeous girl was silently in love with him. When Dhara approached him conveying Neela’s feelings for him, he had to tell her that it’s her whom he loved. Dhara proposed to become his sister for life and Gagan, never defined his love for Dhara, accepted her love as a brother and thereafter Neela’s love as a man. However Dhara suddenly disappeared from his life. Now he is a member of Kraanti Dal, carrying out anti-British activities as per the instructions and guidelines of Sardaar. He has married Neela and they are blessed with a son – Tinku who is ten years old now. Gagan’s father – Seth Damarichand is a pro-British businessman whereas Neela’s father – Mr. Raamdaas Agrawal is serving as Dy. Inspector General of police. A mysterious person calling himself as Bichchhoo (scorpion) also interferes with the activities of Kraanti Dal though he is not a member of it. Gagan runs away from police, to be rescued by Dhara only. Thus life brings his beloved deemed sister back to him after a long time-gap of 15 years. Subhash Chandra Bose’s call – Tum Mujhe Khoon Do, Main Tumhen Aazaadi Doonga (you give me blood, I will give you freedom) stirs up the entire nation including this revolutionary group which considers Netaji himself as its idol. However when the British government puts him under house-arrest, the real test has come for himself as well as his devotees, i.e., the members of Kraanti Dal.The author writes that Netaji is helped by Sardaar alongwith Gagan, Dhara and Naagmani who is Dhara’s beau in escaping from the house-arrest and when he stealthily moves out of the nation, Sardaar sends Gagan and Dhara too with him. After a long struggle for freedom under the banner of Aazaad Hind Fauz (or Indian National Army) when Netaji and his soldiers have lost the battle to the British, Netaji alongwith Colonel Habib-ur-Rehman gets burnt in the plane mishap. The author has maintained that the two people burnt in that plane crashed at Taihoku were not Netaji and Habib-ur-Rehman but Gagan and Dhara. On the other hand, after Netaji’s escape, the complete Kraanti Dal including Sardaar and Bichchhoo gets eliminated by the British. However the torch of the freedom struggle is still kept as lit-up by the surviving patriots.
This story is a suspense-thriller, the suspense being of many things including the identities of Sardaar and Bichchhoo. The complete narrative is action-packed with different clashes of the revolutionaries and the police alongwith the British detectives specially arrived from London to crush the revolutionary activities. The entire narrative is damn interesting and it’s much better than its prequel – Watan Ki Kasam. There is a plethora of characters in the story who are linked to one-another. There are potholes, inconsistencies and historical errors in the narrative but the pace of the novel is so fast that a first-time reader cannot catch them. The climax showing the sacrifice of Gagan and Dhara, allowing Netaji to escape and making the world understand that he’s no more, is completely unbelievable and demonstrates lack of maturity on the part of the author.These novels (Khoon Do Aazaadi Lo & Bichchhoo) have so many pluses that they overshadow the minuses spelled out in the previous para. They score on two major fronts – 1. Patriotism, 2. Human relationships and sentiments. There are several scenes and dialogs which carry immense repeat value and a sensitive reader may find his / her eyes as wet while going through them.
The presence of Subhash Chandra Bose himself as a character renders a flavour of authenticity to this patriotic story though the author has taken a lot of undue liberty in this regard. Other than Netaji, several characters stand out and leave their mark. The author has allowed the characters to evolve on their own and imposed nothing on them. That’s why, despite appearing unnatural (in today’s context), they impress the reader like anything.
A very significant thing underscored by the author is that everybody should do his / her duty sincerely and diligently while staying in his / her place. It’s a great lesson indeed. Whether you are on this side of the table or on that side, better not to step out of your jurisdiction and do your known duty well because there are several things not known to you and life may give you a big jolt any time when you are acting oversmart.
The author has handled male-female relationships with utmost delicacy and an air of idealism. Through the characters of Gagan and Dhara, he has established that male-female love need not always be sexually-oriented. Gagan never tries to define the way he loves Dhara and therefore, when Dhara proposes to become his sister, he readily agrees because love is love and he finds sisterly love as stronger than womanly love.
This work of fiction is no masterpiece. Nevertheless reading it is a thrilling experience and for any patriot, it carries a great repeat value. While paying my tribute to the great patriot Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on his 120th birth anniversary, I recommend these twin novels to the Hindi readers which despite their minuses, are leagues ahead of several overhyped English bestsellers.
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