Mr. Majestic: The Tout of Bengaluru by Zac O’Yeah is the author’s attempt to define a Bangalore based detective character. This is the first book in the series. And I must say that a lot was lost in this story in that attempt to etch the characters.
I met Zac O’Yeah at Goa Art & Literature where we were co-panelists. I got a chance to interact with him. And hear him speak passionately about crime thrillers. I must admit two things – one I do not read too much of crime thrillers. And second, until that point in time, I had no clue about Zan O’Yeah and his work. However, I discovered that he loves to speak and has an innate sense of humor that connects well with the audience. So, I came back home and was surprised to see that I did have a copy of one of his books in my library. I pulled it out to read and it took me a long time to read as the story was just not moving. It kept rotating in the same old places and among same old people.
Most people have liked the portrayal of Bangalore in the book. As someone who lived in that city for a long time, it is the other Bangalore. A Bangalore minus its famous IT industry, Bangalore minus its global workforce. But a Bangalore with the same traffic jams and same Darshini eateries. You could say it shows the shallow underbelly of Bengaluru. It tries to show the geography of Bangalore with a center very close to the proverbial hub of Majestic. It captures some nuances of the city of Bangalore – like its obsessions with mega film stars and everything they do.
Mr. Majestic: The Tout of Bengaluru – the protagonist of the story is a small-time thug or a wheeler-dealer. He manipulates lost tourists mostly. Sometimes plays a catalyst for activities done by people around him. Be it his uncle who raised him, or the neighborhood bar owner or the video parlor guy. Like any uneducated, unskilled but reasonably intelligent guy he tries to make money through the means available to him. Easiest being participating on online schemes that he is well aware of is not legal.
Hari/Harry/Majestic gets embroiled in a mystery where a lost girl is to be found, else his online frauds would be reported to the police. He puts the hat of a detective, follows the clues, gets involved in murders. He even thinks of himself as a hero who has to save this damsel in distress. And daydreams of falling in love with her. Talk of the Sandalwood influence. He discovers the secrets of not only the city, the family for whom he is working and the friends he has known all his life. And he is not a Hero, neither an Anti-hero. He is another young man of this country or city who is trying to get his hands at whatever work he can get.
However, Zac O’Yeah tries to make him a hero by not letting him fall for many temptations and by keeping his character cleaner than the rest of the cast.
I found the narrative a bit too chaotic. Probably Zac O’Yeah wanted to depict the chaos of the world of Mr. Majestic: The Tout of Bengaluru. As a reader, I was getting lost even though I know Bangalore well enough. I also found a lot of loops in the storyline, I would have wanted it to be crisper and cleaner. At places Mr. Majestic’s antics look too juvenile and being juvenile is something that I quite associate with the character of Bangalore city. At places, the author jumps into explaining the things that are obvious to an Indian audience. But probably not to an international audience like explaining the whole pirated films business at length.
At such point, I wondered who his real audience was! Language is OK, you do not get a feel of Bangalore though there is some sprinkling of common Kannada words I still missed cliches like ‘Swalpa Adjust Madi’.
Overall an Ok Read. Take your call.