Birds, Beasts and Bandits – 14 days with Veerappan by Krupakar and Senani

This book was highly recommended by someone in a ‘Book Reading Club’ on fb, just a few days back. I have a fascination for wildlife so I was drawn towards this book and intrigued by the mention of Bandits especially Verrappan. I ordered this book which seemed to be different and interesting.

Presumably, the book is a comic account of 14 days of being hostage to the dreaded bandit Verrappan and his companions. The two hostages were constantly kept on the move. During the move they witness the plant and animal diversity in the jungles of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. They are in awe of Verrappan’s knowledge of the local flora and fauna.

The kidnapped photographers, Krupakar and Senani, who have also authored this book, become closer to Verrappan and experience the strange mix of cruelty and humanity in him.

To start with, I found this book extremely amateurish or maybe for the young adults. It lacked depth; about birds, about beasts and the bandits too!! Most of the statements are self contradictory. Though the writer claims that Verrappan had wide knowledge about the wildlife, he himself narrates accounts where frequently the bandits keep asking the writer about the birds they see on the move. The writers claim that they were constantly on the move but in 14 days, they changed only three camps and that too within Karnataka. They did not venture into Tamil Nadu though the book cover mentions their traversing the jungles of the latter state too.

In the very beginning of the book, Krupakar narrates the incidents where he interviews the people for Verrappan, of a van captured by the bandits because the kidnappers have no knowledge of Kannada. Why would a seasoned bandit lay his trust on two hostages whom he has kidnapped half a day ago? I could not connect with this idea. The writer has tried hard to make it into a funny account but he has failed miserably.

My verdict: I could have used this money to buy a better book! The book might interest teenagers, so I would lend it to them.Lastly, if you get attracted to the book cover which is indeed fascinating, don’t buy the book, borrow it from me!

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