I am fortunate enough to know eminent Hindi novelist Surendra Mohan Pathak personally. He is not only a very humble person but possesses many other virtues also. His creations reflect his personality traits as well as his thought-train and approach towards life. He puts a great premium on the phenomena of friendship. He clearly differentiates between an acquaintance and a friend. A friend is a unique person whom you find on the same wavelength as yours. Even when he is not with you, you get the pleasure of his company by sheer remembrance of him as rightly asserted by Khalil Gibran -‘Remembrance is another form of meeting’.
Mr. Pathak’s fondness for the phenomena of true and sincere friendship between individuals has led him to show such characters in many of his novels – true friends who are ready to sacrifice anything, including life, for the sake of the survival and welfare of a friend. Aaj Qatl Ho Ke Rahega (a killing will inevitably take place today) is one such novel only which was first published in 1977.This novel whose title is completely out of place and has nothing to do with its story, falls under the most popular series of the author – Vimal Series whose hero is a wanted criminal. Originally a very nice and virtuous person, he has fallen into the quagmire of crime by his ill-fate only. Despite keeping his virtues intact, he keeps on escaping from the law by changing places. In this novel, his destiny lands him first in Mumbai (then Bombay) and thereafter Goa.
Aaj Qatl Ho Ke Rahega (or Aaj Qatl Hokar Rahega) is the fifth venture of this extra-ordinary hero who is actually a Sikh (real name being Sardaar Surendra Singh Sohal) but does not keep long hair, mustache and beard now like a traditional Sikh. It shows Vimal shifting from Chandigarh (where he was in his previous venture) to Mumbai (then Bombay), seeking shelter with a renowned lawyer Trilokinaath who keeps him in his employment. Vimal continues to work for Trilokinaath under the fake name of Kailash Malhotra until one day Trilokinaath gets killed by a high profile gangster Bishambhardaas Naarang and now Vimal’s life is also in danger. He flees from Mumbai and lands up in Goa.
In Goa, he accidentally saves the life of Maguel Alfanso who is the owner of a night club titled as Solmar Club and runs it alongwith his brother-like manager – Alberto. Alfanso is a dangerous person and runs a magnificent but illegal casino in his club. However he is a very nice person at heart and being grateful to Vimal, he employs him as the cashier of his casino. On the same night, Ranjeet who is a dangerous killer and the right hand of Bishambhardaas Naarang arrives at Solmar Club with a mission to eliminate Vimal. But Alfanso saves Vimal’s life. Now they are no longer employer and employee. They are genuine friends.
The remaining part of the novel elaborates a gangwar on the soil of Goa in which Alfanso, Alberto and Vimal are on one side and Alfanso’s business competitor Anthony Albuquerque, Bishambhardaas Naarang and their sidekicks are on the other. After a lot of bloodshed, Vimal is able to eliminate the adversaries of Alfanso (and himself as well) except Albuquerque and leaves Goa safely.
The story of this novel moves very fast. Hooked reader keeps on reading incessantly holding his breath till the narrative ends. It’s an action-packed thriller with an ample dose of sentiments like friendship and gratitude. It not only entertains but also inspires. It highlights this fact that friendship is indeed a great phenomena and a friend in need is a friend indeed.
This novel highlights many other things also. A person doing something against the law of the land may also be noble at heart. Besides, apparently an employer and an employee may be brother-like fast friends in their personal life. Further, a person earlier helping or associating with outlaws may change his line of thinking any day due to some solid reason and may decide to become a law-abiding citizen. The internal emergency effected in India (during 1975-1977) proves to be the eye-opener for lawyer Trilokinaath who was earlier hand-in-glove with a hardcore criminal like Bishambhardaas Naarang and he decides not to do any anti-national thing. It’s not unnatural or improbable, underscores the seasoned author.
The character of romantic and adventurous Alfanso who runs an illegal casino in his club but is very kind, considerate and nice at heart, has impressed me like anything. Sometimes a person may be doing something wrong or illegal without being aware of the gravity of his mistake. This is what happens with Alfanso. But such a person, being a prudent one, may stop doing so once his eyes open. Alfanso runs casino out of his sheer fondness for gambling but he closes it once Vimal pinpoints his mistake to him.
The wanted criminal hero Vimal who is now exceedingly popular in the world of Hindi pulp fiction, is a unique creation of Surendra Mohan Pathak. This hero is a God-fearing religious person who is kind-hearted and very sensitive. He is a ruthless killer but takes up arms against the outlaws only and stands up as the protector of the underdog when the occasion demands. Now the author has turned him into something like the legendary Robinhood. However Aaj Qatl Ho Ke Rahega is one of the initial ventures of this hero when his personality was being shaped by his multifarious life-experiences.
Written in spicy language, the novel realistically portrays Goa as it must have been during the seventies. The description of real locations makes the narrative look authentic and reliable.
This old novel is sure to be liked by the Hindi readers who are fond of fast-paced thrillers.
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