Like religion, politics too is the opium of the masses, but when it comes to writing, especially fiction, city-based writer Randeep Wadehra says he is unable to find voices that make sharp commentary or weave a satire on the political undercurrents of a country.
“In India, especially, we have many writers in the vernacular space exploring the political arena in satirical vein, like Kishan Chander, Munshi Premchand and Sharad Joshi. In English, I can think of Shashi Tharoor’s The Great Indian Novel or Khushwant Singh,” says Wadehra.
Inspired and driven, Wadehra is now out with his debut book, a political satire called ‘Mango Man in the Republic of Bananas’. Set in an imaginary South Asian Republic, the book casts a sardonic eye on the way democracies function. “The book’s mainstay is ‘the curse’ that begins with a massacre and ends in a bloodbath 20 years later, when it destroys a regime ruled by an evil troika,” says Wadehra.
“The book has nothing to do with Indian political parties or politicians. My satire does not attack individuals, institutions or communities. Instead, it focuses on mindsets and actions that affect us all,” he says. According to him, a good satire is an effective tool, “a sugar-coated pill” in building public opinion.
As he unravels the functioning of a democracy, the attitudes of elected representatives, pans on their arrogance, crassness and corruption, Wadehra creates a melee of interesting characters, christened quirkily, each a reflection of a thought, ideology and society. While Maharaj Kamuk is the Sadar-e-Azam of the Republic of Bananas and head of Douchebags Party, Viplav is his trusted aide. Look at the other characters: there is an opposition party and its head of Dorks, Bahubali, the tycoon called Sethji who holds clout over the Republic’s politicians, the Director General of Police Daroga, journalist called Ferret, the irrepressible only woman Senator in the Republic Teekhi and social reformer activist Swami Drona. The character Wadehra identifies himself with the most is Teer, Viplav’s brother who heads the Mango Man Movement.
It took Wadehra three years, many drafts and character sketches, a deeper research of the world of politics and its players to put this book together. But the biggest challenge has been its publication. He has finally self-published it, and it is available on Pothi.com, Amazon, Flipkart and on Kindle too.
“Politics is a universal subject, and this book also addresses how religion and ideology have become dangerous anachronisms in the 21st century. My aim has been to focus on finding a way to end exploitation but within the tenets of democracy,” says Wadehra, who has just wrapped up a collection of short stories and is onto his next novel.