PLOT: 3/5

The Pipal tree (Ficus religiosa), revered across various cultures, holds profound significance in spirituality and environmental heritage. In Hinduism, it symbolizes the Trimurti—Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva—while Buddhists believe Buddha attained enlightenment under its shade.

On the other hand, there is also a widespread belief that the Pipal tree serves as a dwelling place for ghosts, spirits, and jinn.

It is this mysterious and dark side of the pipul tree that Anuj Tikku explores in his latest book, Purane Pipal Ka Jinn.

The story as it goes

The tale unfurls with an uncanny possession, wherein a Jinn, perched upon a Pipal Tree, asserts dominion over Arvind Prakash, an unwitting middle-aged actor. This peculiar incident transpires as Arvind, quite inadvertently, relieves himself near the grave of a revered fakir beneath the Pipal’s canopy. Despite the Jinn’s forewarning, Arvind remains impervious.

Enraged, the Jinn seizes control, afflicting Arvind with a malady affecting his private parts. Peculiar events ensue, including Arvind and his compatriot Shiv Swarup inexplicably tumbling from their scooter.

The narrative unravels an eerie enigma—who orchestrates these events, and what does the Jinn covet from Arvind?

Embark on this short chronicle of phantoms, Jinn, and metaphysical enthrallment.

The characters

In our narrative, Arvind Prakash, a middle-aged actor, takes center stage as the protagonist. Preferring solitude, Arvind enjoys the company of only his essential aides—a caretaker and a cook—finding contentment in a family-free existence. Alongside his loyal pet Parakeet Golmaal, Arvind’s closest confidant is his best friend, Shiv Swaroop.

As the curtain rises on the initial scene of the book, Arvind’s character shines brilliantly as he meticulously prepares for his solo performance in the play “Daya Kumar Ki Diary.” Rich in idiosyncrasies, Arvind’s character captivates the audience with its distinct traits, leaving a lasting impression.

Shiv adeptly assumes the supporting role, consistently offering assistance and support whenever our protagonist is in need. The character Shabnam introduces a layer of complexity, leaving readers in suspense about whether her relationship with Arvind is merely a friendship with benefits or if there are deeper, unspoken sentiments.

Adding an air of mystery is the enigmatic aghori, Chinta Haran Aghodi, whose elusive nature keeps him shrouded in secrecy. Each character, accompanied by their intricate backstories, resonates with readers, fostering a sense of relatability throughout the narrative.

What did I like?

The narrative transports us across the nation, navigating from the revered halls of Mumbai’s prestigious Globe Theatre to the tumultuous yet oddly serene lanes of Varanasi. The journey continues to the lively ghats of Varanasi and finally leads to the invigoratingly green campus of Banaras Hindu University. This shift in settings, particularly the stark contrast between the contemporary allure of Mumbai and the ancient charm of Varanasi, provides a captivating backdrop against which the story unfolds.

The writing

Despite the brevity of the book, with well-developed characters and an intriguing plot, there appears to be a missing element in the writing that would ultimately unify all its aspects. The narrative lacks finesse, and there is room for improvement in the art of storytelling to elevate the book into a more compelling read.

Moreover, numerous editing errors, grammatical issues, and spelling mistakes further diminish the overall reading experience.

Not suitable for underage readers

Purane Pipal Ka Jinn explores mature themes that may not be suitable for underage readers. Additionally, those who prefer to avoid vulgarity may find it advisable to steer clear of this content.