Bhang Milkha Bhang (2021) is the sophomore effort from 2020 HWA Diversity Grant Winner Tejaswi Priyadarshi which proves that sometimes twice can be the charm.
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We interviewed Tejaswi back in June alongside a review of his debut psychological horror novel The Psychopath, The Cannibal, The Lover (2020).
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In BMB, there are many characters and multiple viewpoints similar to its unconnected predecessor, but the writing style has immensely improved.
What turned me off initially was the first 30 pages or so as I felt the narrative was going all over the place. Later on, though, as the pieces in the puzzle started falling into place, I realized how ingenious the opening set-up actually was.
As per its name, Bhang Milkha Bhang features a variety of characters who are connected by a rare bhang known in the English vernacular as cannabis. Even though this bhang is the focal point of the plot what our main and minor characters are willing to do to obtain it is the driving force of the story.
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The pacing is incredible from start to finish. The descriptions ranging from character designs to the illustrations of India’s infrastructure and even the mechanisms of everyday Indian society especially pertaining to education, career, business, drugs, murder and overall crime are extremely well-detailed.
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This book is as multilayered as they come. It is hard to pinpoint it to an exact genre but that would still be horror with thriller being the subgenre.
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Not everyone gets a multi-genre novel right but in regards to Bhang Milkha Bhang being only Tejaswi’s second novel-length effort he really hit the nail on the head (possible spoiler alert for one of the story’s numerous subplots).
Remember I mentioned earlier how I found the opening 30 pages to be annoying? Well, the last 30 pages are unputdownable and proceed at a breakneck pace. Literally, there is so much unpredictable carnage in these final passages that it would give the best of extreme horror writers a run for their money.
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Overall, Bhang Milkha Bhang pulls off the extraordinary and that is actually living up to its sensational title. Of course, I thought the introductory chapters could’ve fared better, but that is a minor flaw in a narrative which constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat while reading it.
And I cannot wait to read any and all future works by Tejaswi Priyadarshi. Hats off!
The Rating: 5 out of 5.