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Of Caped Crusaders and Dadus

Priya Krishnan

Visualiser Rocket Kumar
Scholastic, Gurgaon, 2007, pp. 186, Rs. 200.00

Anjali Banerjee
Puffin Books, New Delhi, 2007, pp. 166, Rs. 165.00

VOLUME XXXI NUMBER 11 November 2007

The heroes and heroines (one human, the other, four- legged) in this collection are not the larger than life, ephemeral idols of tinsel town. They are aam aadmis—the average Joes, and real Shahenshahs who save the world day after day, fighting little known causes and grand ones. Without stunt doubles!   In the hands of writers with imaginations let loose and the tools of satire, humour, irreverence and a little political incorrectness—rather brave in these times, this motley crew turns into an absorbing cast of do-gooders and villains. They take us through landscapes as varied as the circus, the underbelly of a flush tank and a continent called Amnesia. Bollywood is never far behind. In Bihari and the Ultimate Challenge, the delightful twist in the end shatters Bihari’s machismo to reveal his softer insides as he turns from reel life to real life hero. And how! Brilliantly etched, Samit Basu’s Rocket Kumar in ‘Rocket Kumar and the Desi Defenders’ is all about ‘old-school heroism’. Not exactly King Khan in the looks department, this ‘little ugly’, ‘Incredible Human Cannonball’, thinks less about himself and more about what’s good for all. Through him, Basu breaks all stereotypes of the proverbial hero.   In ‘The Flushman Cometh’, Flushman fights the pesky fungus of media—with Lisol! This story demolishes the need for sensation and disorder—not with gravitas but with zany humour. ‘The Archrival of Amnesia’ brings you face to face with an insidious enemy—forgetfulness—in the form of Blotto. Delightfully menacing, he’s rather like Jack Nicholson as the Joker in the film, Batman. With a very visual, fable like quality, Blotto is all about abuse of power. And the one who can truly test him is the young, vulnerable Rehaan with a memory that’s indestructible. ‘Rudra’s Split Infinitive and the Destroyer of Worlds’ is abstruse for a collection intended for ten years and up (in my estimate).   And ‘Roy’s Trixy the Wonderdog’, is meant for littler ones. But overall, it’s a delectable spread of original writing that asks something of the imagination. After years of myths and legends retold in newer, improved versions, tried and tested adventures with no real challenges and fiction that’s predictable, these wacky stories look at who a real hero is. Like all great ones, they are self-effacing and understated despite knowing what lies within them. Much like ...

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