The Curse of Surya is a fast-paced thriller set against the backdrop of Indian mythology. I would not be exaggerating if I said Dev Prasad is India’s answer to Dan Brown. There is a dearth of good thriller writers in India. The few we have are repetitive or lack originality. This novel comes as a big surprise. Believe you me, this page-turner will keep you hooked until the end.
The plot involves three protagonists from different parts of the world who stumble upon each other in India. Twist of fate brings them together in a race against time to find Shyamantaka, the famed jewel which was lost 5,000 years ago. The plot is centred around Shyamantaka which Surya, The Sun God, gave to his disciple Satyajit as a boon. However, the jewel comes with a curse as it “can result in misunderstandings, fights, thefts and wars.”
The story is set in Krishna Brijbhumi encompassing various cities in a particular region in Uttar Pradesh, around Mathura and Vrindavan, where Krishna is believed to have lived. The descriptions, factoids and information capsule that the author provides as you turn the pages clearly shows how well-researched the book is. This is a treat for anyone in India mythology and history. The crisp detailing, fluid narrative, simple language and short sentences are an added advantage.
International All Saints’ World Religions Conference at Krishna Janmasthan Temple in Mathura a day before the Presidents of Singapore and India will organise a photo-op at the Taj Mahal in Agra. It is believed that the location of Shyamantaka will be revealed at the Conference. A day before the Mathura event, a Tibetan is mysteriously murdered at Krishna Janmasthan temple. Incidentally, he was a reporter working for Channel 7 TV, Singapore. His colleague Sangeeta is sent to India to cover the Presidents’ meeting at Agra.
Sangeeta meets Alan Davies at the Taj and her heart skips a beat; they bond over coffee and decide to go for the conference at Mathura. Sangeeta hopes to find clues about the death of her colleague. However, fate has different plans for them. The narrative moves in the Dan Brown-ish format; every chapter begins at a different location and time. The author has imbibed hugely from Dan Brown’s writing; the protagonists are embroiled in cracking codes, solving historical puzzles in the hunt for a historical treasure that can destroy the earth.
Sangeeta Rao, the fearless reporter from Singapore will remind you of Sydney Sheldon’s novels which also have strong-willed, determined women as protagonists who fight against all odds. Unsurprising because the author has admitted in many interviews that he is a fan of Sheldon’s works. She and Alan not only fight against terrorist organizations in the quest for Shyamantaka but also against SP Nisha Sharma who thinks they are fugitives and thus wanted by law.
Overall, The Curse of Surya is a good rapid reader for a long train journey. After a long time, India can proudly boast of a mythological fiction that will keep you glued till the end.
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Image courtesy: Saddahaq.com
Tuktuki Mandal, a teenage girl from Magrahat in West Bengal has become the latest symbol of the right wing hypocrisy and the extent of shamelessness to which the BJP can go to for polarisation on religious lines before 2016 Assembly elections.
Anyone who is active on Twitter must have woken up surprised to see #JusticeForTuktuki in the trending topics, wondering who Tuktuki is and what justice are these people seeking? A closer look at the tweets would reveal that copy-pasted statements being circulated by several egg-head DPs or accounts with miniscule followers (one of the means of ascertaining how genuine the accounts are). Obviously, there were known bleeding-heart Sanghis like Saswati Sarkar (who is an expert on Bengal, sitting thousands of miles away in the US), Gaurav Swant, Mrs Gandhi (sic), Aditya Raj Kaul and many others.
Hindu Samhati, an ultra-right wing organisation, which even views household disputes through the prism of religion, led by Tapan Ghosh was accusing that Tuktuki Mondal, a teenage girl was kidnapped by ‘Islamists’ and sold into flesh trade. Not only they did not have any evidence to support their claims, but there were several inconsistencies in the allegations.
As Newslaundry reports:
“But as reporters studied the story, they began to discover obvious loopholes in the father’s version. The most glaring being the girl’s statement to the district Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), where she stated she had left home as a result of a tiff with her parents over her studies and was living in one of her maternal uncles’ place. In fact, a reporter claims the mother, on cross-questioning, even admitted that their daughter was involved with Gazi and had eloped with him. The mother also stated that both Gazi and the girl studied in the same school. Gazi at the time of the girl’s disappearance was also a minor and turned 18 in June.
The story just wasn’t adding up. And most reporters chasing the story for major mainstream news channels stated that the story was not what Majhi and the girl’s father were trying to sell them.”
Right-wing news channels like NewsX did not want to be left behind. They started their own campaign to bring justice to Tuktuki and save West Bengal from the clutches of Jihadist misrule of Mamata Banerjee. Anyone who has ever watched NewsX knows they hardly ever report facts; hyperbole is the mainstay of their brand of “journalism”. Also, enter Kanchan Gupta with his “scathing” Op-Ed in The Pioneer calling upon people to save Hindu girls from “Muslim goons in the State.”
All this was happening as BJP state and central leadership sat on a dharna at Magrahat on the eve of Rath Yatra and Eid-Ul-Fitr. Whether there intentions were to seek justice for Tuktuki or to incite communal tension on the eve of religious festivals, I leave the reader to judge.
Meanwhile, Tuktumi Mandal was back in news on 20 July. She gave a statement to the Magistrate saying she ran away from home after tiffs with her parents regarding her studies. She said she was staying at her maternal uncle’s place. Tuktuki even refused to go back to her father’s house and the court has asked her to be sent to a juvenile home.
Video courtesy: NewsLaundry
The orchestrated campaign of the BJP to incite communal tension during festive season only shows their ideological bankruptcy. The Hindu right wing thrives on rumour-mongering. With the advent of technology like WhatsApp and Photoshop, their attempts at spreading communal poison have become even easier.
Last month when I had visited the Taj Mahal, our guide (who happened to be a Muslim) had remarked during a conversation that with elections approaching, many communal clashes were being staged by political parties with vested interests and they were helpless. With Bengal elections just around the corner, I ominously brood over what my guide at Taj Mahal told me in a casual remark.
And even as I write this post, I have information that the right wing is planning to stage another hoax campaign to shame Bengal next week.
It is incumbent on every self-righteous Bengali to save our motherland from the poison of communalism. We cannot let that happen to the land of Rabindranath and Nazrul.
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