Authors: Aditya and Arnav Mukherjee
Price: Rs 195
Despite being badly edited (several typos make an efficient editor not), Karm makes for a rather arresting read. Set in Mumbai in 2020, the plot revolves around small-time reporter Sudhir Navkar, the outrageously beautiful model-turned-reporter Tara, and the strangely named Parsi billionaire (what other kind is there in Mumbai?) Vishnu Rustomjee Mistry and their soon-to-be inter-connected lives.
Mumbai is still beset with the usual problems of corruption and lawlessness, as is the rest of the country, even if the trains are now air-conditioned. Enter Mistry with his judicial reform bill in association with the government of Maharashtra, promising a bigger police force, a guard on every bus and train — an agenda that seems suspiciously similar to that of a political party’s 2015 manifesto. Of course, given that it’s India, this road to progress is soon potholed by threats to the corrupt government from a vigilante (group) named The People’s Guardian. What follows next is, well, pick up the book for yourself.
Flecked with some pretty decent metaphors, the book’s authors, brothers Aditya and Arnav Mukherjee, have managed to create a potboiler with some actual literary merit. Sure, there are the usual superhero tropes of indentured servant (‘Muninmji’ is as desi as one can get, all due respect to Alfred Pennyworth) and orphaned billionaire playboy a la Batman (though Mistry seems more comfortable operating out of bureaucracy rather than a Batcave). The beautiful model with brains (whose body seems to heave every time someone, usually Navkar, looks at her) and, of course, their sidekick Robin (in the shape of Navkar himself) are familiar figures too. And, yes, Mumbai is, as usual, fetishised into a bloated insomniac, but you still can’t help turning the page to see what Navkar and Co. get up to next.