A human being running at the lightening speed like a leopard, jumps effortlessly from one building to another like a monkey, like an ant can handle things 100 times heavier than himself or herself, has photogenic memory and uses his /her extraordinary capabilities fighting evils. Superheroes always fascinated and amazed me. This was the reason I was quick to pick up Captain Elephant by Aseem Mahajan and was earnestly looking forward to read it.
Story in Brief
The story was set in a fictional town Pinzoora, not far away from Mumbai, where a child was born, named Mayas, with a rarest of rare heart disorder. Mayas was living a life with limited physical activity and his heart condition seems to be a curse to him. But soon he discovers that his rare heart condition was a blessing in disguise and learns about his exceptional and astonishing capabilities as a human being.
He was a genius and extremely intelligent for his age and much bigger and taller than his peers. But his surprise know no bounds when he realized that he can run like greased lightening and jump higher without any effort. This leads to the birth of Captain Elephant.
Life of Pinzoora people goes haywire when the most feared terrorist Popananda was set free. He breaks all the havoc on the town to teach society a lesson; to show them the mirror. Now it is upon Mayas disguised as Captain Elephant and Inspector Kangi to save the town. This is the story in a nutshell.
The story starts out with a bang. Mayas heart condition will generate curiosity in your mind and you want to read more and more about it. The author doesn't disappoint and describe his situation in detail and how he was mentally distress due to it and his turbulence as he feels chained and caged like animals in a zoo.
What was even more interesting to read was how he breaks free and rediscovers himself. It was inspiring and enlightening to read. The words of an elephant caretaker, “The chains are on the mind and soul, and not on the physical body. We won't know how strong we are unless we try'', infuses a new life in Mayas. This entire episode was really well written. I was so captivated and immersed into the book.
But then the downhill starts and the narrative drags. The author has stretched many scenes beyond the need. A crisp and thrilling read is what I was looking for.
The author tried to add a suspense element, but honestly, it fell flat. Manas and Kangi were suspecting one person at a time and when that person comes out clean they look for another. In this way it is difficult to build suspense, you only kill the suspense. Also the way Captain Elephant was dealing with the terrorist was funny to read not thrilling.
Characterization is good. Mayas was a gifted child yet due to the ignorance his self esteem took a lot of battering and was ridiculed in school. I could actually feel his suffering and suffocation. But Mayas as a Captain Elephant sounds too mature even for his faster growth. The character of Captain Elephant seems to be inspired from the Krish movie. So was the character of Inspector Kangi. His character was a mixture of Singham and Chulbul Pandey.
The author failed to strike a balance between the character of Captain Elephant and Inspector Kangi. He tried to give importance to Inspector Kangi's character, but always has to tone down to elevate Captain Elephant's character.
Angel and Demon
Through the terrorist Popananda, the author tried to show that both an angel and a demon resides in everyone's heart. But when human beings are rubbed on the wrong side their demonic side erupts out. It is then a few anti social miscreant takes advantage of mass discontentment to spread violence and disruption and harmless common people gets embroiled in the riots. They become both culprit and victim.
The author was also ruthless in showing how politicians always take advantage of a crisis situation to mint money.
I personally, loved the jacket. A lot of thoughts seems to be put into it. You can understand it after reading the whole book.
Overall, the important message that how riots takes place was clear, but the novel, at large, is good only in bits and pieces.