Review: The Terrorist
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Review: The Terrorist

A story of a militant-army officer stand-off is written only with a Bollywood adaptation in mind

books Updated: Jul 06, 2012 19:18 IST
Aasheesh Sharma, Hindustan Times

The Terrorist

Juggi Bhasin

Penguin Metro Reads

Rs 250 pp 136

The blurb reads: “There’s little difference between you and the terrorist you are trying to kill. Little except, which side you are on.” Does it ring a bell? Rewind to Frank Costello in The Departed: “When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals… when you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?” In one of his interviews, former TV journalist Juggi Bhasin, author of The Terrorist, says the novel was penned with Bollywood in mind. Clearly, the climax of the book, which pitches computer engineer-turned-militant Murad against Suvir, a maverick army officer with a dark past, has shades of it. If only the run-up to the climax was a little less filmy.

Close to 100 pages of the 505-page tome are spent bringing us up to speed with the demons in Suvir’s mind. The tedious flashbacks of his debriefing sessions at the army’s counter-insurgency school in Vairengte would have made Manmohan Desai proud.

The book picks up pace as it moves out of flashback mode. A tense encounter between Murad, christened Ghazanvi and Suvir, code named Prithvi, on the Kaman Bridge in Kashmir’s Uri sector is exciting and melodramatic.

The real texture of The Terrorist comes from Bhasin’s visual style of writing and attention to detail. Whether it is the Badami Bagh cantonment in Srinagar, Paharganj’s seedy hotels or Gurgaon’s impersonal malls, the author’s familiarity with the terrain seeps through. The journalist-author gleans out important details from real events, whether it is the Babri Masjid demolition, or the serial blasts in Mumbai, to inspire the narrative.

The climax, more Agent Vinod and less Gangs of Wasseypur, which centres on a 26/11 style attack in Delhi, is paisa vasool. In these multimedia Pinterest times, where attention spans are shrinking and Abu Jundal’s arrest vies with 50 Shades of Grey for eyeballs, most of The Terrorist’s characters come across as montages in monochromes. One hopes the next two instalments in the trilogy address this.

First Published: Jul 06, 2012 19:18 IST