In life, we come across difficult times when almost everything seems to be going against us, when we face such ticklish problems that cannot be discussed sometimes even with our closest ones, when we are concerned less about the solution of the troubles and more about their being known to the world and when we feel that none in this world can help us. However these seemingly hopeless situations may not be so hopeless and there must be some remedy for the problem present at the moment. The positive way to look at these things is to remind ourselves that no lock is ever manufactured without its key and no labyrinth is constructed without a way to get out of it. Himmat-e-Marda, Madad-e-Khuda or God also helps those who are courageous and don’t lose hope and their fighting spirit. Hindi novelist Surendra Mohan Pathak has written one such thriller in which the protagonist is not ready to surrender before a team of blackmailers who want to extort a hefty sum of Rs.20 Lacs from him (during the eighties when this novel had been written, this sum carried even much higher value). He, instead, decides to attack the attackers. This brilliant tale of courage and wit of a person is titled as Bees Lakh Ka Bakra (someone who can be swindled for a sum of Rs. 20 Lacs).The word Bakra literally means goat but as we, the Indians, know very well that in common usage, this word is used for someone who has been / can be fooled or conned or looted for money (or some other valuable thing). By this definition only, the hero of this novel – Ranveer Raana who is a businessman and owns a machining factory in Chembur (Mumbai) is nothing but a Bakra for a team of three thugs – Naagwani who runs a photo studio, Chettiyaar who is a taxi driver and Pavnikar who works for a video parlour (video parlours had become quite popular in India during the eighties where movies were exhibited on small screen). However actually all these are involved in their respective professions for the sake of cover of their actual activity only which is crime. They pinpoint Raana as their victim for blackmailing and prepare a film of his sexual ventures with a girl – Seema as the basis of their blackmail. When Raana decides not to be blackmailed on this ground and tells the truth of his affair with that girl to his wife, the blackmailers now turn themselves into murderers and kill Seema in order to trap Raana under the charge of her murder. Still Raana does not yield. He knows that police won’t help him, hence he himself makes a convoluted plan to get better of the blackmailers and succeeds in eliminating them all.The highlight of this very interesting thriller is the character of the protagonist Ranveer Raana only who is a man of courage and strength and never ready to bow before any adverse situation. Seeing the trouble facing him, he musters courage and starts thinking rationally to take on his antagonists. He believes in the philosophy of ‘Attack is the best defense’ and following that only, he prepares his strategy, seeking help from those he can trust. He knows very well that criminals are seldom beloveds of each other. The only thing they are fond of is money and money only. That’s why he decides to create rifts among them and that’s how he succeeds also in that mission of his which paves the path for the total elimination of the blackmailing gang. Hence through this extra-ordinary character, the author has spread the message of never to lose hope and never to panic when the odds are against you.
The author has not advocated or justified Raana’s being infidel to his wife and having an illicit relationship with Seema. He has shown that Raana is feeling guilty within him and his conscience hurts him for that affair. As a part of his strategy to turn the tables on the blackmailers, he confesses his affair before his wife but he apologizes to her with utmost sincerity. He is concerned for the future of his children also and is, in no condition, ready to compromise with their welfare.
However feeling guilty for something undesirably done and repenting for that is one thing but loving someone from the core of your heart is another. Quite paradoxically, despite feeling guilty for his affair with Seema, Raana has genuinely fallen in love with her. That’s why when he comes to know that the blackmailers have killed Seema, he decides to attack them not only to save himself from their blackmailing but also to seek revenge from them for Seema’s murder. This is a solid evidence of the seasoned author’s keeping his principal character as human, neither divine nor devilish.
In addition to the lead character, the author has portrayed other characters of the novel also quite realistically. All the villains alongwith the female associate of Chettiyaar – Anita appear to be quite real, emerging from the underworld of Mumbai. Raana’s wife Rashmi, his secretary Rekha, his works-manager Tendulkar, his sincere friend Advocate Susheel Khetaan etc. are also real flesh and blood human-beings and not caricatures. Especially the character of the protagonist’s wife has been crafted by the author in a highly admirable manner who is badly hurt by her husband’s infidelity and visualizes the other woman with a sense of envy as well as hatred plus develops a sense of utter disgust for her infidel husband but stands by him in his hour of crisis all the same.
The language (Hindi) used by the author in this novel is spicy but certain dialogues cross the line of decency. The narrative moves very fast as the novel is a compact one, devoid of useless, irrelevant and superfluous things. The climax is highly impressive.
Without touching the issue of originality of the story idea, I recommend this brilliantly written racy thriller to all the Hindi readers. Like the hero of this novel, let’s also develop inner strength in ourselves to face any odds in our lives as God helps only those who help themselves. No baddie or thug can beat our abundant courage, stony willpower and ability to think rationally.
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