Book Review: Shikari by Yashwant Chittal: Translated by Pratibha Nadiger

Before Shikari by Yashwant Chittal, I have never read fiction novels based on politics of corporate life. When the request for review came to me for this book, the first thing that attracted me was that the original Kannada version was written in the year 1979. The first thought that came to my mind was “Did Corporate politics really exist during that time as well?”. And when I started reading the book, I was amazed at how much can we relate to Shikari now. The characters, their desperation, the survival instinct that starts ruling us when we are in trouble, will keep you hooked till the end.

The story of Shikari revolves around Nagappa, a Senior Manager who is being framed for a crime that he hasn’t committed. When the novel begins, Nagappa is seen drowning in the biggest crisis of his entire adult life. He has been suspended from his job for an offense he doesn’t know. During the course of the novel, he gets to know that he is being accused of being complacent in a fire accident that has killed three people in his company’s Hyderabad factory.

Nagappa, being brilliant and risk-aware but also eccentric, used to warn his seniors about the safety and health measures being taken in the factory. But somehow, the one who warned them of impending disaster is now at the center of it as a culprit. Someone has set him up for a fall, and he must go to the bottom of it.

While Nagappa is trying to figure out how can he prove himself right, his Darwinian instincts of aggression and self-preservation kicks in, now migrated to the corporate world. Nagappa finds himself sliding into the world of paranoia, accusatory letters, unwanted alliances and sympathy from unexpected sources which make him panic. Somewhere along the line, Nagappa becomes convinced that he is being framed by his company’s Deputy Managing Director, Phiroz Bandookwala. But the real question is, in the end, who will be the Shikari (the hunter) and who will be the Shikaar (the hunted)?

What I loved about Shikari was how Chittal exposed the underbelly of the Corporate World even in the year 1979. Also, the overall background of the story is something that most of us can relate to, given the politics we face each day at work.
However, the only thing that didn’t go well for me in this book was the speed at which the events were unfolding. It was a bit slow as compared to what is promised in a thriller like this.
This one small thing may also make this book not everybody’s cup of tea, but yes, Shikari is a brilliant book to read.

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