Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Newsroom Mafia by Oswald Pereira

Title: The Newsroom Mafia
Author: Oswald Pereira
Publisher: Grey Oak Publishers (Westland)
Pages: 259
Price: Rs 245
Genre: Fiction / Thriller
Rating: 6/10

Though I am sure this book draws inspiration from the real, yet it is hard to overlook its strong Bollywood appeal. The main characters also seem to come alive straight from an underworld movie - a Hindu Don, Narayan Swami, ruthless and astute in his dealings, has a heart of gold for the poor and the needy. He puts together a coterie of shrewed and promising scribes as his advisers, for channelising his money as well as for handling the politicians and the police; a supercop, Bombay Police Commissioner, Donald Fernandez, who takes it upon himself to finish the Don and his empire. And the usual right hand men, side kicks, corrupt politicians and police thrown in good measure. The story even has a moll in the form of Stella Kutty. But over and above these cardboard characters from a hindi movie of the 70s or the 80s, the most interesting aspect about this book is the insight it offers about the media.

The naive common man assumes that the role of media is to report what goes on in the society but this book opens our eyes to how easily media can orient public opinion by planting stories in collusion with benefitting parties, timing the release of news articles which can deviate our attention from important issues to even preconceiving a scoop.

Oswald Pereira, veteran journalist and author, conceives a fast-paced crime thriller in 'The Newsroom Mafia'. The book begins at an interesting point, when a huge inside scoop goes awry. The Bombay Police Commissioner, Donald Fernandez plans to capture Narayan Swamy with much planning and secrecy. But his plan falls flat when the Don trumps him by sneaking away to safety from under the nose of a huge police contingent. This event sets pace for a story full of twists and turns where one trumps the other every now and then. Meanwhile, the story also charts Narayan Swamy's efforts to transform his image from an underworld Don to a charitable, social worker. Aiding both the parties in this game of cat and mouse are journalists. The narrator Oscar Pinto, a journalist, sides with Donald for exclusive stories, while a slew of scribes jump on the Don's bandwagon for money.

The cover page and the title are fitting, but the language and narrative are too flat for the theme of the book. The dialogues on several occasions are too filmy and cliched. I also felt that the end was a little let down in comparison with the high drama in the rest of the book. The book could have been much shorter as some details and events seemed irrelevant for the total narrative.

The book may not merit to be a part of literary hall of fame, but it can certainly give you good company on a journey or a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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