Millennium Post

Prisons can’t bind the prisoner

Shawshank Redemption was the first thought that came to my head when I was done reading Omar Shahid Hamid’s The Prisoner. Honestly, it was a strange feeling too as the film was not even quite on the same scale in terms of violence and gore as the book is. But then, The Prisoner belongs to thriller and not drama genre, if it ever is made into a film. That is highly unlikely.

Hamid’s debut novel takes you through the rugged areas of Pakistan’s most known areas, namely Karachi and Islamabad. Constantine is a crooked but clean cop who has had close shaves with death twice. Akbar is crooked too but fearless and the only one of his kind, an adept professional who knows what he needs to know as a police officer. Both these officers are entangled in a game being played by politicians backed by The Don and Agencies.

Constantine, having escaped death twice, likes to stay away from trouble as much as possible. But even that does not stop him from taking risks.

He and Akbar worked together, with Akbar’s career witnessing a meteoric rise compared to Constantine’s modest professional life. But Akbar finds himself entangled in a game where he has to maintain the law and order being run amok by the United Front and its wardias and keep clear of messing with the Agencies. The trouble starts when he starts working for Kaaley Gate wallahs which angers a certain official at Bleak House wallahs. Soon Akbar is stripped of his post, his respect and no one but a policeman is behind all this who goes by the name Maqsood Mahr, an officer who has made a name for himself not through work but by sucking up to almost everyone he could. But when an American journalist is kidnapped, everyone is in dire straits and needs Akbar’s help. Akbar does help but after he has recovered everything he has lost and making sure Maqsood pays for what he had done to him. Where the story draws a parallel with Shawshank Redemption is when you discover how Akbar had planned his escape from prison. No, he does not organise prison break. Instead, he gets a new car and walks out of prison as if he is a celebrity. Through and through, the only person who is actually an underdog but proves his mettle almost every time is Constantine.

Omar’s debut book is a nice read for just about everyone. You may not like the film, but you will definitely like this book for the kind of honesty that it brings to the table and the way all events unfold. It is also an insight into how many governments function today and the role police force plays in building confidence among the masses. It almost feels like a Salman Khan film wherein one person can do almost everything (don’t go by this statement and read the book first), but where Akbar falls, he falls in such a way that even he cannot fathom it. Read the book and all the hours that you put into it will give you a rush which you will want to experience over and over again. That’s a guarantee!
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