Thursday, November 22, 2012


Thrillers have always been my favorite genre. And so it was natural that the backpage synopsis of “The Bankster” interested me. I’ve read Ravi Subramanian’s “Devil in Pinstripes” and found it very engaging. It was the first time I had read anything related to the world of banking, and Ravi’s detailed description made it an enjoyable read. Naturally I had huge expectations from him. Here’s my review of his latest novel “The Bankster”.

Genre – Banking thriller (I call this genre BANKLER.)

PLOT – We are introduced to 3 stories right from the beginning –

In Angola, we witness a deal consisting of arms and diamonds.

Simultaneously a second story is woven. This one set in kerala tracks the development of a nuclear power plant and the forces opposing it.

And finally we are introduced to the third and the main storyline – that of the Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2) in Mumbai.

The writer focuses mainly on the last story with occasional chapters describing the first two stories.

Few pages into Ravi Subramanian’s fictional banking world and we know that nobody is a saint here. Money laundering deals are done over phone calls; an extra marital affair is handled casually as if there is nothing wrong in it. In short, Ravi portrays the glaring truth of what goes on in the banking world. Like Madhur Bhandarkar does in his films, Ravi too leaves no stone unturned in exposing this harsh reality.

Things begin to get murky when the main employees of the bank start getting killed. It is obvious that someone big is behind this conspiracy. But the question is who? And most importantly why?

And thus enters ex-employee of GB2 and current crime reporter Karan Panjabi. With just two days in his hand, he must find out who is behind this entire operation. Backed by his girlfriend and three other people, we see how he unearths the entire conspiracy followed by a shocking revelation in the end.

Ravi Subramanian’s plot is brilliantly engaging. He introduces us to 3 totally different stories set in totally different places. And he merges them into one plot in the end. He does it very nicely and convincingly. The plot set in kerala and Angola are developed less and could have been better. But Ravi covers up for this minor glitch by concocting a fantastic plot involving the GB2 bank in Mumbai. Obviously this is his genre, and his mastery clearly shows. We are treated to a detailed description of how things go about inside a bank. And never for a minute do we get bored. In fact the way Ravi describes few plots in exhausting detail only enhance our interest. We can actually visualize how the scene progresses. The credit card sequence, the cheque box sequence and the fishermen sequence are few superb examples. Ravi describes each in quite detail (Which many would find unnecessary) but it only makes the narrative better.

The entire mood of the book changes once Karan panjabi starts investigating. And let me tell you, the entire portion of how he gets to the bottom of the entire conspiracy is, in one word, ULTIMATE. Every detail is logical and seems possible. In fact we marvel at the genius of karan Punjabi. He is that hero of the book who will be loved instantly by the readers.
(For some strange funny reason I picturized him to be VJ Cyrus Sahukar; well it worked for me.)

The climax of the book is just perfect. It totally lives up to the expectations. Till the end I kept guessing who the conspirators might be – well that is the main purpose of a fictional thriller, isn’t it? To keep the readers guessing till the end. And “The Bankster” does just that.

A special mention to the portions shown in Vienna – they are amazingly real and gripping.

FLAWS? Well there were a few turn offs. As I said earlier, the Kerala plot seemed a bit superficial. Plus few characters are ignored. For instance, Vikram’s wife and even Zinaida’s portions. They could have been developed a bit more. But these are easily overlooked in a plot which keeps you thoroughly engaged.

I’ve been a regular and avid reader of Frederick Forsyth since many years, and it is my belief that no one in the world can go so deep into a plot as he goes. Those who have read his books know what I mean. He can present so intricate details about a single scene that you are just left awestruck at his skills.

But I’ve never seen any such attempts made in Indian novels. Since the advent of Chetan Bhagat, we have been subjected to countless romantic novels by IIT and IT passouts which barely have a plausible plot and feature quite atrocious grammar at times.
Amongst these, Ravi Subramanian comes as a welcome change. In many ways, his writing reminded me of Forsyth – be it his fondness for extreme details or his finesse in describing crime investigations.

OVERALL, it has been ages since I read such a compelling and un-put-downable Indian fiction novel. How else could I explain the fact that I finished this Novel in just one sitting – 8 hours at a stretch?

Don’t miss this one if you love thrillers. This one is definitely a superior one.

P.S - Thanks for the personally autographed copy Mr subramanian.

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  1. 8 hours at a stretch?
    u must be crazy.
    This book, took me so long, even my colleague went "lagta hai iss baar book interesting nahin, hai na?"
    Coz i used to read books in my staff bus.
    U already know my review.

    First book review haan? Nice one. Just keep up the good work.

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