A perfect script for a Bollywood blockbuster

Hindi novelist, Surendra Mohan Pathak has never tried to write for movies and in fact, he has been to Mumbai only once in his life (1956) when he had not even started to write novels or stories. Had he tried in movies or developed some good contacts in the tinsel town, who knows he might have been successful like Salim-Javed because he has penned several novels which can be the foundation of formula-based successful Bollywood movies. One such novel is – Meri Jaan Ke Dushman which is an emotional thriller and was extremely popular in the world of Hindi pulp-fiction at the time of its first publication in the early eighties.

Meri Jaan Ke Dushman (the enemies after my life) is the story of a bank cashier – Jogendra Kumar Batra who lives in Vishalgarh, an imaginary town situated on the bank of an imaginary river, Sona. A very simple, old-fashioned and middle-class bachelor, Jogendra is quite satisfied with his monotonous life of working in the bank because he likes the town – Vishalgarh very much and that happiness is enough for him to live lonely but peacefully. The twist in his straight life comes when some robbers try to loot the bank and he, alongwith two of his colleagues, sees an identification mark on the leg of one of the robbers. Fortunately the robber gets caught after a few days and the local police asks him and his witnessing colleagues to give testimony against the arrested robber in the court. His colleagues get scared of doing it and backtrack but he, considering himself a dutiful citizen, witnesses against the robber in the court. The robber is hanged after the due legal procedure because of strong evidence against him (the guard of the bank was killed during the robbery, hence the arrested robber was being tried for murder alongwith robbery).

After the execution of the robber, his fellow robbers start threatening Jogendra. Honest police inspector Sinha provides protection to him but after a few days when the protection is removed, the threats start coming again. Besides, in the bank too, he becomes an object of hidden ridicule. Finally, he leaves Vishalgarh with a heavy heart (because he loves the town very much). He shifts to Indore and becomes a truck driver in association with an old friend. They make a small transport company of two trucks and Jogendra goes through this new phase of his life for around four years. Some sudden incidents bring about certain changes in the looks and personality of Jogendra and some changes are developed by him on his own. He changes his name also – from Jogendra Kumar Batra to Anoop Singh. One day, when his friend gets killed in an accident, he decides to move the wheel of his life back to his native town – Vishalgarh and take on the enemies of his life who had forced him to leave it four years back.

Jogendra, now Anoop Singh, re-enters his beloved hometown and gets employment as a driver in the transport company of Geeta Sabarwal who is a sincere young lady, forced to take on the family transport business after the sudden demise of her father. One younger brother, Sushil and one old and faithful driver, Chaman Lal only are the people in her life whom she can trust. Now Jogendra, aka, Anoop Singh starts searching for the enemies after his life, alongwith peforming the job of the truck driver in Geeta’s company. How he meets his goal and hands over the criminals to the police alongwith the revelation of his true identity, forms the remaining part of the novel which contains his emotional involvement with Geeta (he starts loving her silently) also.Meri Jaan Ke DushmanThough this plot reminds of an old Dharmendra-Raakhee starrer movie – Jeevan Mrityu (1970), the novel is pretty different from the movie. It is small in terms of pages but has been written by S.M. Pathak on a very large canvas which contains all the required ingredients of a successful Bollywood movie – suspense, thrill, romance, emotions, gangsters and their molls, a little bit of comedy and finally action. Mr. Pathak has mixed all the ingredients in the right proportions to prepare a spicy dish for the entertainment-seeking readers. The reading of this novel provides an entertainment parallel to a commercial (masaala) Bollywood movie. Had some skilled writer-director of Bollywood tried his / her (like Farha Khan) hand upon it, he / she would have converted it into a highly entertaining and engrossing movie for the regular audience of Indian commercial cinema.

Mr. Pathak has inserted all the twists in the tale at the appropriate places and not allowed any aspect of the narrative (emotion or romance or action or thrill) to go overboard. It’s a novel in which everything has fallen in the right place. The novel renders a full Paisa-Vasool type feeling to the reader after it is over. It starts quite interestingly with Jogendra re-entering his erstwhile left city and ends with an emotional union of Jogendra and Geeta which contains very romantic and emotional interaction between the lovers. The narrative is just like a brilliantly drafted screenplay of a typical Bollywood movie (from the era of the seventies and the eighties).

Mr. Pathak has allowed all the principal characters to evolve naturally in the novel despite the small length of the narrative. Jogendra, Geeta, inspector Sinha, Chaman Lal, Sushil, the main villain and his accomplices, the molls and even the very small character of Banarsi, the betel-shop owner (the Panwaadi); all the characters have been developed properly with their salient features coming before the readers in such a fashion that they appear to be real flesh and blood people instead of caricatures. While going through the novel, the reader gets a feeling of meeting all these people in person and seeing the narrated events live in front of his eyes. And that’s the biggest success of the novelist, i.e., Surendra Mohan Pathak.

In my review of certain novels of Sunil Series created by this eminent Hindi author, I had elaborated the trait of Mr. Pathak of infusing life into a fictitious metropolitan city called Rajnagar. In this novel, he has described a comparatively small town (again fictional, created by him only) called Vishalgarh. And let me underscore this fact that he has presented a lively portrayal of this fictitious small town also. While going through the story, the reader gets a feeling of wandering in Vishalgarh with the hero of the novel, for the story has been narrated in first person, i.e., from the hero’s point of view.

Meri Jaan Ke Dushman had been penned by the author more than three and a half decades back and it renders a fresh feeling even when read today. It has not been re-published since long (the last edition had come several years back). However if any reader of this review gets a copy of this novel somewhere and reads it, he / she is sure to get the wholesome entertainment akin to that provided by a spicy Bollywood movie.

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
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