The rum-drenched adventures of a superhero

Anjali Jhangiani
Monday, 3 September 2018

Name: Pawan: The Flying Accountant 
Author: Sorabh Pant
Publisher: Rupa 
Pages: 304
Price: Rs 295

The title itself is a disclaimer. When you pick up the book, you know you’re going to read about the adventures of an accountant, Arjun Singh, who can fly, and is a monkey (literally, with a tail and everything.) He’s also suicidal, but can’t manage to die because of his superpowers. 

Then one day, a millionaire walks into his life and makes him an offer he cannot refuse. Not because he is enthusiastic about using his superpowers to help, but because he was kind of strong-armed.

It all starts with the discovery of some secret documentation by Lord Mountbatten, where he records details of these amazing creatures with superpowers. It is vital to remember here that this novel is a work of fiction, and everything in it is a part of the topsy-turvy ride driven solely by the writer’s imagination. The actual Lord Mountbatten left no such diary behind in real life, sigh.

If you’ve heard the author’s stand up acts, you’ll be looking forward to the political humour sneaking up on you from between the lines. You come across many popular political figures (to be clear, spoof versions of them that exist in this alternate universe). The events in the book are not real history, though large chunks of it might be derived from facts. China plays the bad neighour — sneaky, dirty and fast in their plot against India. 

The humour is dark at times, specially in the parts where terrorists plan to make their mission more efficient. In fact, a reader might feel that bits and pieces of the book are inspired from mythology, the politics of India and the world, the complicated relationship with our neighbouring countries, and thoughts of clarity that one might get while indulging in recreational consumption of certain idea-inducing leaves (ahem... ahem). But it’s really just a story of super monkey-humanoid-demigod trying to save the world. 

You meet the characters as they appear. There’s no back story to tell you why they are the way they are, there’s no getting to know their past because there’s no time for it. There’s a war happening, disasters waiting to damage the world, and the protagonist is burdened with the responsibility of waking up to his reality — how he’s the only one who can put a stop to all this ruination. 

I could empathise with his opinions about how the concept of dividing the world into countries is simply 
nugatory, and how borders just cause more problems. But racists might find this nothing short of blasphemy.  

Don’t keep reading between the lines, instead, just read the lines and enjoy going on this ridiculously unbelievable rum-drenched adventure with Pawan (that’s Arjun’s superhero name).

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