Read

‘How to Kidnap the Rich’: An ugly side up thriller

Giraj Sharma | Updated on September 17, 2021

Slice of life: Rahul Raina takes you on an eventful journey from the dark, filthy back lanes of Kashmere Gate in Delhi to posh South Delhi homes   -  RV Moorthy

Rahul Raina’s debut novel, set in the bylanes of Delhi, tells a fast-paced tale about the underbelly of the education industry

* Written in Ramesh Kumar’s autobiographical narrative voice — How To Kidnap The Rich is fast-paced, vivid, unpredictably wild and satirical

* Ramesh writes a national entrance exam for Rudi and gets the first rank countrywide

* Oscar-nominated actor Riz Ahmed has bought the rights for turning this book into a film

****

A tea-seller’s son rises from the underbelly of Delhi to become an educational consultant and the best in his trade at that. The education consultant tag for Ramesh Kumar, however, is just a façade for what the protagonist does, which the reader soon discovers. Ramesh writes exams as a proxy for ‘rich, dumb, lazy kids’.

With his debut novel How To Kidnap The Rich, author Rahul Raina takes you on an eventful journey from the dark, filthy back lanes of Kashmere Gate in Old Delhi to posh South Delhi homes. Going by the manner by which he grips the reader by the collar, one is sure to be reading a lot of him and about him in times to come.

Written in Ramesh Kumar’s autobiographical narrative voice — How To Kidnap The Rich is fast-paced, vivid, unpredictably wild and satirical. The characters seem all too familiar and the situations may seem clichéd but the Raina manages to weave a mesmerising tale. A less gifted writer could bore you with the sheer verbosity of Ramesh, but not Raina. He is candid, in your face, vulgar, at times over the top yet entertaining. It takes you time and a dozen pages to get accustomed to the liberal use of colloquial, gutter-language expressions but then as the plot thickens you just let that be. The book has already started to get a lot of praise for the satire and the pace at which the plot unfolds. Oscar-nominated actor Riz Ahmed has bought the rights for turning this book into a film.

Ramesh writes a national entrance exam for Rudi and gets the first rank countrywide. This propels Rudi and his family into a different league but Ramesh is too smart to be left behind. He signs up as Rudi’s manager but not without some heated exchange with Rudi’s rich, greedy, gutless Dad. The plot thickens when Ramesh and Rudi strike it big and are offered a game show on TV — ‘Beat The Brain’. One thing leads to another and eventually the duo get kidnapped. All hell breaks loose from that point and we go on a roller-coaster ride of cross-kidnapping, double-crossings to violent acts of a finger being chopped off and more.

How to Kidnap the Rich/ Rahul Raina / Little Brown / Fiction / ₹499

 

A remarkable feature of this thriller is that all along Raina doesn’t let go of any opportunity to make a satirical comment or remark on the Indian society and the state of affairs of the nation. Sample this: “His Dad reminded me of the maharaja, the mascot of Air India, our beloved joke of a national airline. Fat, wise and mirthful, though the airline itself was short of money, short of staff, always bottom of the international league tables, another of one our great national shames, like the ’62 war and female illiteracy.”

Raina’s deft handling of other characters in the story is what makes the drama move beyond just the plot and gives it life. Ramesh’s tea-seller father, his ‘client’ and later partner-in-crime, Rudi, and then his love interest, Priya are constructed exceedingly well. However, for me, it is the build up of the character — a French lady Claire — that changes Ramesh’s life. Her well-written role not just shows Raina’s mastery over his craft but also depicts a rare sensitivity that seems far beyond his age (Raina is 28 years old). How to Kidnap the Rich is too many things rolled in to one but one thing that it misses out on is the detailing of the locations within Delhi that it is set in. Places just find their names in this wild tale. Not that it takes anything away from the book, but then, some of those places nuanced with context and character could have made the thriller firmly rooted in Delhi and even more enthralling.

Giraj Sharma is a brand consultant. An out and out Delhi boy, he runs a blog called State of Delhi

Published on September 12, 2021

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu Business Line editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.