SUBJECT: 4/5 WRITING: 2.5/5 OVERALL: 3/5
“How did I get involved in all this. I wondered in my head I have nothing to do with gangsters, criminals, and serial killers, how did I land up in their lap, and that too in the murder case of my father? My memories went back to those darn horrid days of April 2012 when there was news flashed in the media that I have murdered my father with the help of my paying guests.”– Anuj Tikku, Hanging Palande
Whenever we think of true crime, we think of books or web series, or even movies. But we never do think of people and events from a personal angle. But what when that true crime becomes your own story to tell? This is what happened with Anuj Tikku when the tragic and ghastly murder of his father Arun Kumar Tikku took place on the night of 7th April 2012.
It was more than three years ago when I first read Anuj Tikku’s heart-rendering account of the true crime that he witnessed in his own life. In Yes Sir I Killed My Dad, the author talks of his journey into the glitzy and glamorous world of Bollywood. From his highs and lows to his successes and failures, to the eventual events that culminated in the murder of his father and his being suspected of the same, Anuj narrates in vivid detail about each phase of his life in Mumbai.
Hanging Palande is the sequel to the real-life story of the actor and it narrates how after 10 years the battle for justice is still on. As the struggle for justice for Arun Kumar Tikku and Karan Kakkad continues, the evil culprit and serial killer Vijay Palande is still rotting in jail. In this book, the author relives the memories after 10 years as the case is suddenly put on the fast track and the effort to get a death sentence for the notorious serial killer is on a war footing.
The true story is narrated from the author’s viewpoint and in first person and features many people and characters including the serial killer Vijay Palande, his accomplices Dhananjay Shinde and Simran Sood, Inspector Srikant Tawde, Investigation Officer Gitesh Kadam, and top criminal lawyer Ujjwal Nigam among others.
The story begins on a late evening in the dreamy city of Dehradun. Just as the author was working on his next book, “Lulla Bai”, a serial killer mystery, he gets a call that takes him back to the dreadful events of April 2012.
An urgent call from the Mumbai Bandra crime branch informs him of the court process currently in place and the need for his presence as a key witness in the case. As Anuj slowly recalls his past, the reader is plunged into his dreadful history and the events of one of the most scandalous murders in Bollywood.
In Hanging Palande, the writing is simple and makes use of easy and conversational English which will be easy to pick up even for a beginner-level reader. For the more serious reader though, the book has many editing and grammatical errors that may take away the reading pleasure. The tone is honest and sincere and the text is interlaced with conversations and flashbacks into the past. In addition to that, the author also shares his memories of the city of Mumbai, which not just gave him a lot but also took away a lot from him.
“The city that took away everything from him and left his Bollywood Dreams in shreds is now calling him back into its fold and Anuj returns to get justice for his murdered father.”
The book has detailed descriptions of how Anuj came into the world of acting and how he got caught in the dark underbelly of Bollywood, falling into the carefully-laden trap that would have eventually led to his own murder. He recalls how it was sheer luck that his life was saved and that he was given a clean chit in the murder of his father. Here he doesn’t forget to thank Mumbai’s super cop, late. Himanshu Roy whose keen investigation and foresight had been a lifesaver for Anuj.
Not just personal insights and anecdotes, the author shares rather unknown facts and information about the history of hanging and death penalties in India, educating readers in the process.
His candidness about his shortcomings and bouts of depression and fear is refreshing. It is not every day that you come across someone who lays it all bare for the public to see their innermost fears and most vulnerable secrets.
He can also be seen expressing his shock at the state of affairs and the system in the country that allows killers like Vijay Palande to not just survive but thrive in the country, and wonders how there wasn’t even an iota of remorse in the ruthless killer’s eyes.
“If a man shows remorse and repents there is still hope for him. As a wise man once said, every saint has a past and every sinner a future. But to me, it’s clear that Vijay Palande is a sinner who has no future because he has no true repentance for what he did, if there is no repentance there cannot be any redemption. Plain and simple.”
Honest, candid, short, and crisp, Hanging Palande is the story of a true crime that shocked not just the world of Bollywood but the entire nation ten years ago.
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