India's political scenario has been undergoing a major makeover since the 90s. And in the past five years, it has witnessed a curious turn of events, wherein the mass opinion got highly influenced by a privileged middle class. Hence, anything nested under a ‘political thriller’ label is of particular significance.
A riveting thriller about realpolitik, “The Four Patriots” by debutante writer Sumit Agarwal, which hit the stands last month, belongs to the genre of speculative fiction.
Set in an imaginary future, six years away, the book outlays the social and political fabric of India. An omniscient third person narrative, the story begins with an Independence Day event in 2022. The first chapter ends on a cliffhanger, which makes it all the more a compelling page-turner.
In the next few chapters, our narrator familiarizes the readers with the four white knights of the story: Varun, Salman, Raghav and Aditya—all upper middle class men with different professional backgrounds, characteristics and ambitions. The novel elaborates on how they end up at the forefront of a political drama and come together to save the nation from the path of destruction it is being led on.
The characters are truly a reflection of a particular section of Indian men, and ‘only’ men for that matter. The women in the book are either girlfriends that charm the heroes or wives who trouble them.
It seems a foreigner girlfriend has become a prerequisite in mainstream Indian fantasies, thanks to Rang De Basanti; the book has cleverly managed not to miss one. Another ‘inspiring’ female character gives up her passion for social work to marry a chauvinistic NRI who wouldn’t allow her to work after marriage.
The bored housewife, however, finds friends online and the male profile names on her chat list makes her husband angry and suspicious. The wife then starts “acting like a vamp”, it is said. The husband, who is one of the male protagonists, then wishes he lived long enough to see the woman lose her beauty so that she won't be able to find another man after his death.
That said, the politics in this thriller is a curious one after all, but definitely not one of gender equality.
On the bright side, you are likely to finish reading this nail-biter sooner than you would imagine!
The book's blurb ends thus: pick this if you are a patriot and do not believe that ‘is desh ka kuch nahin ho sakta’. True to type, The Four Patriots serves justice to those perturbed by the nation’s current plight.
After all, Sumit Agarwal brings a Midas touch to everything he ventures on and writing also would be on his list as the book has all kinds of flavors to please fiction fanatics.