Book Review

The CEO Who lost His Head by Aditya Sinha

--Mohd Farhan

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Genre: Fiction

Extent: 265pp

Price: Rs 299

A fine demarcation line is usually drawn between popular and literary fiction on the basis of conventional literary techniques and complexities. And popular fiction is generally brushed aside by the critics without their critical appraisal because it does not fit in the grid of conventional rules.

It is true that popular fiction has its own aesthetical allure with little complexities of style. It is equally important that it should be dissected to understand the popular culture of our society. Aditya Sinha though a lesser known writer in India, worked as a newspaper editor in Mumbai, and has come up with such piece of fiction. The book reveals about the author that ‘he is now hand in glove with Mumbai policewoman Mona Romteke who was looking for a writer to chronicle her tales of detection’. The CEO Who Lost His Head is his recent work of crime fiction loosely portraying the inside picture of media houses in Mumbai with detailed descriptions of how media houses work.

The CEO of Morning Analyses, ‘Mumbai’s fourth largest circulating English newspaper, Buster Das, renamed by his colleagues as Bastard Das for his sex-hungry disposition, has his head bashed in with a trophy of hard brass. The novel opens with the two cops, Inspector Sandesh Solvekar and Sub-inspector Mona Ramteke from the Mumbai police assigned to unravel the mystery of the CEO’s murder. The novel also gives glimpses of atrocities committed by the police.

They interrogate all the colleagues of Buster Das who are the suspects. Having peeped into the personal life of the colleagues, the two cops come up with filthy realities about media blokes including Bastar Das. The writer intends to divulge the corrupt world of present-day media that has nothing to do with ethics and moral values. It only aims to be a money-generating machine operated by capitalists.

The story travels forward with the interrogation of all the workers of Morning Analyses from the peon to the editor in-chief and also the wife of the deceased CEO. The novel is crowded with numerous characters largely representing media persons holding different positions in a media house e.g. head of Human Resources Mr. Himangshu, dating Editor Mohini Saxena, the Chief Financial Officer Mr Tilak Raj Tijori and the peon Deepak Rathi. The chief protagonists of the novel are the two cops who narrate a larger part of the tale. All characters are technically flat with no complexities that make a novel profoundly appealing and beautiful.

One of the most daunting tasks is a well-knit plot construction. The novel fails to achieve that, only informing the reader that novel is set in Mumbai, though no attributes of particular locale, which could have made the novel more appealing, appear anywhere.

The writer has employed uncluttered colloquial language making the narration more fluent. Vernacular slangs of Mumbai though used sparsely acquaint the reader with the linguistic culture not only of the city but also of the media houses.

It is a remarkable attempt exposing the nuances of big corporate media houses and their moral and ethical draught. Unlike classics, The CEO Who Lost His Head is an easy read to be amused with in leisurely hours. But it may not afford gratification to a serious reader of literary fiction.