Maximum mayhem: A high-intensity cop-chase thriller, 'The Blue Bar'
It builds suspense by keeping the identity of its killer and his motive undiscoverable till the end. The supporting characters pump blood into the thriller without allowing the proceedings to caught.
Published: 05th February 2023 05:00 AM | Last Updated: 03rd February 2023 04:53 PM | A+A A-
Damyanti Biswas’s The Blue Bar has everything going for it––an inspector who cannot let his past remain in the past, a serial killer who has an army of minions, and a dancer whose dreams crumble around her. These are people who generally belong to different rungs of the social class, but Mumbai, where this story is set, allows them to freely interact with each other.
The inspector (Arnav Singh Rajput) is finding it hard to continue his investigation––on an ongoing case about multiple murders of women across the city over several years––but keeps at it, even as his superiors attempt to convince him to focus his energy on solving fresh cases instead of digging up bodies that were buried many years ago. Cold cases such as this don’t interest most police officials, but Rajput doesn’t want to let the opportunity of nabbing an evil culprit go.
The murders seem to follow a gruesome pattern and as more details come to light, Rajput begins to suspect the people around him. The sharpest plot point, beyond these standard tropes, however, is his reunion with Tara, the dancer and lover from his younger days, who had disappeared without a trace. What should have come across as a sappy soap opera twist, turns into an anchor that somehow holds the narrative together. Otherwise emotionally unavailable, Rajput’s heart beats only for Tara.
The Blue Bar, for all intents and purposes, builds suspense by keeping the identity of its killer and his motive undiscoverable till the end. The supporting characters, made up of other cops, underworld dons and Bollywood actors, pump blood into the thriller without allowing the proceedings to get caught up in a series of endless repetitions.
And since Rajput isn’t a rookie, he knows how it feels to get closer to his target. A key piece of the puzzle is the Blue Bar, where Tara works, and the establishment after which the book is titled. Rajput, however, doesn’t race to the finishing line alone. He has his assistant and friends helping him through the way. With a dramatic recreation of a police chase that, in moments, turns violent, Biswas gets the larger canvas of the novel on point. Almost all the main characters get physically injured at one point or another.
It is evident that the author has spent a lot of time researching the working lives of police officers and actors, and she sprinkles her findings throughout the novel. To the book’s advantage, the digressions don’t become bumps in the narrative, but there are subplots that are dispensable. Also, her observations regarding guns, consumption of alcohol, and the nefarious dealings between cops and criminals that form a large part of the background don’t offer any fresh insight into Mumbai’s underbelly.
With this novel, Biswas has created the type of thriller that seems to have been written with the notion of making it readily work for a television audience. Detective thriller has, after all, emerged as the most successful sub-genre under crime fiction over the last few years, both on paper and on screen, and The
Blue Bar appears to fit the bill for both.