A Don in the Jungle by Mallikarjun Patil
Mallikarjun Patil is a novelist, short-story writer, translator and critic. His first novel two Generations and stories of a campus were well appreciated. The Grbund Shakes Beneath and In Shakespeare's England (a travelogue) are his other creations.
In writer's note the author asserts, "The novel has some splendid history as well as my story. As for its history, first I wrote a realistic novel on Dr. Raj Kumar's kidnap in Kannada. Of course. I had taken a lot of pain in the expedition of the work. Many writers and intellectuals had appreciated me in the venture."
In the first part of the novel entitled "Accidental", the writer introduces us with such characters as Anjalri Danamma, Anand etc. In the same part we came to know Ramrao's kidnap. "The notorious forest brigand Mr. Marappan has abducted the cines tar and politician Ramrao." (p.2) Ramrao's abduction upset the people.
In the next section of the novel entitled "It took place within a few minutes", the writer takes us to abducted Ramarao who was thinking something. "Suddenly there came a terrorist gang, holding AK-47 rifles. Some strange atmosphere. A wave of terror, creating confusion. The terrorists surrounded Ramrao's country villa destroying his dreams." (p-7) Ramrao was kidnapped by Marappan with his long Mont ache and whiskers. The novelist narrates this kidnapping incident in realistic manner. "Then Marappan decided to take away two persons Ramrao and his one time personal secretary Basappa." (p-9) The result of this kidnap was widespread violence in the southern towns of Mandya, Mysore, Chamrajnagar and Bangalore.
Janta Party also started agitating because Ramrao was their leader. The chief minister conveyed the meeting. In the assembly hall Dayanand Shetty cried "Marappan has! so far, tortured and killed hundreds of innocent people, most of then the police .... yes the STF .. So he's killed nearly two thousand elephants and he's looted sandalwood worth crores of rupees." The government decided for STF operation for the release of Ramrao. Bangalore burned for days so the government declared holidays for a week.
In the next section of the novel 'Kidnap Myth', the novelist tells us the demand of Marappan. In the next section entitled "The Dark Shadows' Dr. Patil narrates people's reaction on the kidnap of Ramrao. "They said the yesteryears' actor Ramrao through his assumption of a variety of characters and acting in a variety of situations, recreated kannada cultural heritage." (p-20)
Some people tried to provide clarification of Ramrao's kidnap by Marappan. "Marappan's mother was admitted at Victoria. She was suffering from a fatal disease. His brother Aryan was looking after her. However, the doctor said she needed to undergo some costly operation as the doctors had to come from Bombay. He said some to the medicines had to be imported from England. Accordingly an amount to the time of two lakh rupees was essential." (p-24)
There were many reactions from the section of people. The Buses were pelted with stones. In the section 'Prayers and Pujas' the novelist tells us about mediators and prayers. "It was Ramrao's house in Sadasivanagar Bangalore. Mrs. Ramrao, that was Laxmamma Ramrao, was there sorrowful and exhausted. She looked like a burnt - out candle. Her son Kashinath was busy that day in helping religious people who came there from the communities of Hindus, Muslims and Christians." (p-31)
The people of Gulag decided to do a puja in the shrine for the sake of Ramrao's release. In the next section entitled 'Master Marappan', the novelist tells us about the whereabouts of Marappan. "Talawadi was a unitary authority. It had fifty villages. It had an area of 480 square kilometers ..... Marappan was born in Gopinatham in Mysore district. His full name was Marappan Pounder." (p-35, 36)
The novelist also tells us the criminal history of Marappan. "His rapport with tribals was well worthy. As people knew tribal in the borders did not get justice from this state or from that state. They depended on men like Marappan." (p-40) Actually Marappan wanted to catch a great man from Karnatak.
In section 'Tamil Politics' the novelist narrates Tamils and their related problems and politics. "Once, Baran, then lonely joined Marappan. He Coaxed him for Tamil cause when the latter doubted his design. Baran said, "You're like Prabhakaran. Why'd you limit your activities to poaching and smuggling. Instied, you indulge in Tamil glory. (p-45) The novelist narrates Marappan's demands and ransoms in the section entitled "Marappan demands." "Marappan demanded the release of SS criminals who had a hand in the murder of great officers life SPH and Harshad Patel." (p-50)
In the next section The supreme court the novelist narrates supreme court's stay against Tada release. People reacted to the Supreme Court's decree sharply. Some said the Court's stay of Tada's release was detrimental for Ramrao's release. Ramrao's wife and son made several radio speeches and they requested the don in the jungle to release Ramrao.
In the next section entitled "Karnataka Bandh' the novelist Karnatak people's anger over Ramrao's kidnapping. Ramrao sent a cassette asking his people not to observe a statewide bandh because it would affect many lives. "This was in Bangalore city. Karnataka band paralyzed city. Karnataka band paralyzed the whole civic life there. Crores of rupees public property was destroyed." (p-66)
In the next section of the novel entitled "Ramrao in the Wild', the novelist is narrating the psychological condition of Ramrao. He is remembering his past days how he got education won elections and how he became a transport Minister. Shivapal, a journalist was the mediation between Marappan and Ramrao. Shivapal was the editor of Tamil Desam. Marappan told about his demands to Shivapal. "Shivapal, the mediator went to Chennai. Karunanidhi welcomed him with state honour. The cassette was sent to the chief Minister of Karnataka. All decided to install poet Tiruvallur's statue in Bangalore. They decided to release Tada Cases. So they hoped of Ramrao's release." (p-84)
In the next section entitled "Shivapal's visit' the novelist tells us Shivapal's visit and his efforts. "No doubt, Shivapal started to take a few photos. His assistant Satyapla began video graphing. 'Yes' please tell me about your demands', Shivapal asked the don." (p-91)
In 'Escape Basappa's History and Mystery' the novelist tells us about Basappa's miraculous escape. "Nobody knew the exact nature of Basappa's escape. Most to his details were dishonest and intriguing. Police officers said he created at least three versions of his escape's. (p-98)
In the last section of the novel entitled "The Deadlock and Disaster', Mallikarjun Patil narrates the last drama to release Ramrao. Both the state governments of Karnatak and Tamilnadu had to face bad time. Shivapal's third visit fetched him nothing. The government has not fulfilled any of Marappan's demand and in its place STF had arrested his brother and later killed him. "No-no. In can't spare you', the don burst angrily, targeting the innocent man in a trice. 'Duddle...' that was the rifle sound. This done Ramrao fell to the ground. He died instantly." In this way this novel ends with the tragic death of Ramrao.
The language is simple and the novelist has presented linguistic grandeur. Every section of the novel has been well maintained and well narrated. Mallikarjun Patil is at his best in this novel. This novel is a must read for every avid reader. Its price is also reasonable.
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Prof. Dr. Ram Sharma
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