‘Ghar Ka Bhedi’ is an idiomatic expression in Hindi language whose origin is the story of the Indian epic – Raamayan. It’s a term used for a member inside the house (quite naturally, knowing the secrets of the house) whose betrayal leads to the fall of the house. While referring to the Rama story, Vibheeshan (the youngest brother of Raavan) is called as the ‘Ghar Ka Bhedi’ and the maxim – Ghar Ka Bhedi Lanka Dhaaye (the insider, i.e., Vibheeshan leads to the fall of Lanka) is quoted for him only. Taking a clue from these facts, a person who possesses the inside information of a family / house / organization and uses it against the same (for the sake of material benefit or revenge or the like wise) is called ‘Ghar Ka Bhedi’. In a nutshell, an insider can be called ‘Ghar Ka Bhedi’.Hindi mystery writer, Surendra Mohan Pathak titled the 107th venture of his crime reporter hero, Sunil as Ghar Ka Bhedi which was first published in January 1999. It is based on the murder of a corrupt journalist, Gopal Krishna Batra who was a stigma in the name of journalism because he used to blackmail the people on the basis of certain inside information gathered by him about them. He used to write a regular column – ‘Ghar Ka Bhedi’ in a newspaper – ‘Jaagrook’ (alert) in which he first gave certain indications about the prospective blackmail victim (and his / her concealable secret) and thereafter extracted money from him / her by threatening to reveal the whole truth before the world. The byline of the column contained only the initials of the column-writer which were GKB. Whenever somebody enquired about the full form of GKB, the answer came from the administrators of the newspaper as ‘Ghar Ka Bhedi’. However since the initials of Gopal Krishna Batra were also GKB, he only was suspected to be writing that column. One more reason behind this suspicion was the drastic improvement in his financial status since the beginning of the column in the newspaper. He had started living in a magnificent mansion in a posh area called North Shore (in the fictitious city of Rajnagar) alongwith his wife, Bhaavna and sister-in-law (wife’s younger sister), Sanchita and maintaining a lavish life-style.
And now Batra has been murdered.
The news of Batra’s murder is broken to our hero, Sunil who happens to be the chief reporter of a national daily of high repute, Blast; by his junior reporter, Arjun when he is in his regular drinking session with his hand-in-glove friend, Ramakant in Youth Club, a night-club owned by Ramakant. Now our hero alongwith his close friend and junior reporter, starts investigating the murder of Batra. He comes to know that Batra was a licentious person, having an affair with not only his unmarried sister-in-law, Sanchita but also the young educated maid of the house, Neena Manuel. However he also finds that the other members of the house are no saints either. His sister-in-law Sanchita lives a carefree lifestyle full of boyfriends and she never minded the advances of her brother-in-law too. And the wife, Bhaavna has at least three admirers outside the household – 1. Inspector Sukhbeer Chaanana, the police officer investigating Batra’s murder, 2. Saagar Santoshi, a novelist who is the neighbour-cum-old friend of Batra, 3. Sanjeev Suri who is apparently a DJ (disc jockey) performing on radio but actually a gigolo who gets intimated with wealthy but lonely women and extracts money from them in lieu of the services rendered by him to them. In addition to these people, Sanchita’s boyfriend Pankaj Saxena is also suspect for this murder because he had been very unhappy with Sanchita’s relationship with her brother-in-law and had boxed him in public for that reason. One more in-house suspect is the driver of the family, Jagat Singh whose brother (who was a doctor) had committed suicide due to Batra’s blackmailing. The list of suspects does not end here. Niranjan Chopra, a drug-dealing gangster who runs a notorious night-club – Nickle Chain, Taanya Chatwaal, a young girl who is a drug-addict and maintains illicit relationship with Niranjan Chopra to get her regular dose of drug and her father Naresh Chatwaal who is not only a big industrialist (known as the Cotton King) but also likely to be sworn in as the Union Minister for Industries, are also among suspects. Now it’s a great challenge for Sunil to single out the real murderer out of so many suspects. And his endeavours in this respect keep the reader hooked throughout the novel.
The novel is not only an intricate mystery (I don’t know whether it’s Mr. Pathak’s original idea or he has lifted it from somewhere) but also a humour-studded story. The story starts with the usual drinking session of Sunil with his friend, Ramakant and thereafter the continuous presence of Ramakant in the novel keeps on tickling the funny bone of the reader. The good dose of humour adds immense value to the interesting mystery and makes the novel worth reading more than once. The hero’s interactions with his junior, Arjun are also interesting and his quick-wit and smartness is scattered throughout the novel.
Mr. Pathak’s spicy language and the tassels added to the main narrative not only render a repeat value to the novel (I have read it many times) but also make it as readable by all kinds of readers interested in light stuff. Above all, it contains inspiring stuff too in the form of the motivating and positivism-filled talks of the ever-optimistic hero. The novel has a fresh feel despite a lapse of more than 18 years since the issue of its first edition. I recommend it wholeheartedly to all those who can read Hindi and like reading fiction.
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