Book Review – Bihar Diaries by Amit Lodha

There are plenty of times that you relate to one or more characters in a book. I’ve often felt like Bertie and thought of my mom as the ever-wise Jeeves. I do feel there are not enough times I can relate to an author though. That person is a mirage for me, someone who wrote the book but does not exist as vibrantly as any character in their book.

Bihar Diaries by Amit Lodha. Before I begin writing about this book, let me tell you this. Amit Lodha graduated from IIT, got into the IPS and there are many more achievements. I saw a JEE book and decided engineering from IIT was not for me. I saw the syllabus for the civil service exams and thought “yes we’ll, I’m not going to pass language exams ever!”. The IAS option I promptly flushed down the drain. Plenty of differences, right? But I can say I relate to Amit Lodha. Why? Because he is scared of lizards! Finally, someone who admits to it in a book. This person instantly went from one whose story I was reading to a fellow human being. Simple really how a fear makes people more real. (Sending love to all those with a fear of lizards)

Bihar Diaries by Amit Lodha, Book Review by Frost At Midnite

Now about the book. Bihar Diaries is a telling of one man’s story, his life and work in one of India’s most backward states. Yes, there are cities and towns, a government and everything that would make it a proper state. But there was enough to form the opinion, two decades back, that Bihar really was in the dark ages. The newspapers were what made me form that opinion sitting comfortably on my couch a thousand miles away in the south. There is a detached feeling of “what is wrong with the world” that comes to all of us when we come across a disturbing headline. And then we go about our business. A headline is what it remains to us. I am one of the many many people who react this way. Then there are, thankfully, people in public service who don’t stop with that. It goes beyond a piece of information for them. It becomes an actionable item for them.

Vijay Samrat is a man whose notoriety increases with every heinous crime he commits. And with time his reach extends to the lowest and highest strata of  Bihar society. Our author, Amit Lodha, at the peak of his career, gets transferred to an outback with the barest of amenities and the gruesomest crimes. Sixteen people are murdered in cold blood by Vijay Samrat and his gang in an act of vengeance. Nine of them from a family because the patriarch had the same name as the man Vijay was hunting down. A case of mistaken identity and nine lives gone. The book details the rise of Vijay Samrat, his imprisonment and subsequent escape. The murder of sixteen people makes him the most wanted criminal by the law and the most feared man by the public. As the SP of Shekhpura, it was Amit Lodha’s job to bring Vijay Samrat and his gang into custody. And he does it in style. There are glimpses of everyone’s personal lives as well. Amit Lodha’s reminiscences about his college and early married life, Vijay’s background, Horlicks’ background… it just brings to front the development of their characters, some for the better and some not so.

Bihar Diaries, as shown in the cover, is to be made into a movie. It is probably why the book is rather filmy and it was a bit difficult for me to take it seriously. Yes, the man, Vijay Samrat, was a sociopathic beast. But he was not a person, reading about whom I would lose sleep. For me, the book lacked a certain degree of gravity. This makes me not want to group Bihar Diaries as a true crime novel. Perhaps it was the author’s intention to make it a light read and put a facade over the stress, pressure and the whole intense situation. And maybe, it is this aspect which will make Bihar Diaries a crowd pleaser.

Bihar Diaries is a fast-paced, quick read which provides just the right amount of thrill and light-heartedness that makes it a good read. You can finish it off in one go, perfect for a weekend evening. Go for it.

If you haven’t read the book skip this part. Almost all the phone calls that Amit Lodha had attended to during ‘Bihar Diaries’ brought about a result. I wonder what happened to the ones he handled regarding his brother. The author left me wondering.

You can find a copy of Bihar Diaries here – Amazon, Flipkart, Penguin

Goodreads

Bihar Diaries: The True Story of How Bihar's Most Dangerous Criminal Was CaughtBihar Diaries: The True Story of How Bihar’s Most Dangerous Criminal Was Caught by Amit Lodha
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

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