Piyush Jha is known for movies and stories which have an underlying thread that explores the quirks of human psychology. With Raakshas, he delves deeper into the human psyche, to dissect the darkest corners of the mind, and bring forth raakshas, the demon, that exists within every person, dormant and subdued, unless called out to.
Raakshas is the story of a young boy who is subjected to extreme and unimaginable horrors from the moment he is born. Predominant among these is the inhuman treatment he receives from his immediate family. There is one mother figure he looks up to, who is rudely taken away from him during early childhood.
Raakshas is the story of a teenager, a boy who grows up to treat murder and death and brutality as a way of life, as nothing different than going out for a walk. A boy whose ideas of right and wrong, and imagination have been twisted by those who brought him up.
Raakshas is the story of a man, a man whose past demons fuel the demon hidden within himself, overpowering every other emotion that his heart might be at the danger of acquiring.
Raakshas is the story of all the demons in the form of people, that are hidden in our society, which one remains unaware of, unless actually faced with them.
And woven into it all, is the story of a young girl, a girl whose own demons threaten to haunt her for eternity; who chooses a path of hunting down criminals in a bid to escape these demons.
Their paths cross and what promises to follow is a nail-biting and gripping manhunt for a man who is committed to acquiring the title of “India’s No. 1 Serial Killer”. This is where Piyush Jha falters. While he does an excellent job of building up the background of each of the central characters, utilizing the extended canvas that the written word offers, to his advantage, and putting him almost at par with some acclaimed crime and thriller novelists (if not an Agatha Christie, definitely a Martina Cole), somewhere in the middle the book ceases to be the promising crime fiction it seemed, and picks up the pace of a Bollywood movie. Events happen at breakneck speed, often with little or no build-up, new characters are introduced and then disappear, and names of places crop up with little sympathy to the reader who may not be familiar with nooks and crannies in Mumbai, Pune and Delhi (severely impacting the visualization of the story within their mind). It is almost as if the author has been pushed into completing the story within 200 pages, instead of the 400 pages it demands, and which the author would most likely have done justice to.
Instead what follows after the first half of the book is a mish-mash of the Bollywood movies – Samay (the one with Sushmita Sen), A Wednesday and Sangharsh. By the end of the book, the reader is left wishing that the author had gone that extra bit to write at the same pace and followed the same narration style with which he set the stage for the story.
Nevertheless, Raakshas definitely can be marked as a one-time read. Piyush Jha has consistently been getting better with his books. We only hope that the trend continues, and his next book gets the number of pages it deserves.
If you have already read Raakshas by Piyush Jha, let us know your views of the book in the comments below.
GoodReads rating: 3.5/5.0
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