Sunday 8 September 2013

Bad Cops

I love graphic novels. More so, if they are rooted in non-fiction (Joe Sacco’s Palestine and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi top my list). The medium has exploded in the last decade world-wide. In India, we have had notable works by Vishwajyoti Ghosh (Delhi Calm) and Sarnath Banerjee (Corridor).

 In the graphic novel, Mumbai Confidential it is very difficult to separate fact from fiction. Based on the infamous encounter killings by cops in Bombay and the underworld-Bollywood nexus, a lot of incidents seem just out from the newspaper headlines. Obviously the writer (Saurav Mohapatra, who is now US based) and illustrator (Vivek Shinde, a Bombay based artist) have done a lot of research on the subject and it shows in the book, as Ron Marz also summarises in the foreword, ‘This story exists because Saurav, Vivek, and their collaborators are the only ones who could breathe such life into it’. The art work captures the city of Bombay very well and compliments the excellent story. This book can easily be our Road to Perdition**

In Mumbai Confidential, Inspector Arjun Kadam is an ex-encounter specialist whose life has taken a down turn after the death of his wife. His ex-boss ACP Vishnu Damle wants to rehabilitate him in the department. His ex-colleague, inspector Sunil Sawant, now virtually runs a parallel justice system based on extortions and ‘encounters’. While returning after meeting Damle one night, Arjun meets a young street urchin who tries to sell him flowers. Next instant they are run over by a speeding Ferrari. The girl does not survive. Arjun does somehow, and his plan to bring the culprit (who could be a Bollywood star) to justice sets of a chain of events which culminates in a shoot out on a stormy Bombay night. I don’t want to spoil the fun but do expect a lot of twists and turns as the story heads towards a bloody climax! There are also some interesting interludes at the end of the main story but I did not like the unnecessary dedication to Bollywood start Parveen Babi at the end of one of the interludes, ‘Full Moon’ which seemed a bit forced.

The book has been published by Archaia Entertainment (a US based niche publisher) and the production quality is excellent (hard cover with art paper inside). It is priced a bit steeply at 25 $ (available for Rs.1465 on in India) and hence may put off some buyers in India. Maybe if they introduce a low cost paperback edition (and remove the interludes) for the India market, it would help.

The tag line of the title of the book reads as, Book One: Good Cop, Bad Cop. Eagerly looking forward to Book Two now.

Also note that the book is rated ‘M’ (for mature readers, 18 years and up) so if you have kids running around the house, take care!


**Well known graphic novel by Max Allan Collins based on organised crime in American Midwest, also adapted into a popular Hollywood film directed by Sam Mendes.

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