The sky is filled with good and bad, that mortals never know. – The Battle of Evermore, Led Zeppelin
I believe “heroes” are made by the path they choose, not the powers they are graced with”. Everyone has a superhero inside them waiting to be discovered.
This book, BADOGA- Music Men Volume 1 is the DEBUT book of author Pankaj Saini. He has brought his work forward along with publisher Notion Press in the form of a FANTASY FICTION SUPER-HERO story, which is the FIRST PART OF A SERIES called, Music Men. It is a FUN, LIGHT, and an ENTERTAINING read and I sure enjoyed it. A bit LENGTHY with 300 pages but it is definitely a PAGE TURNER and one is glued to the book to read what happens next. It’s an EXCITING journey- reading and experiencing this book with the author’s SUPERB NARRATION. The book can be categorized under Fantasy Fiction, Action, and ADVENTURE reads. The title sure sounds a bit weird and the cover, a bit confusing but the relevance of both the title and the cover becomes clear, once we read the book. There could not have been a more PERFECT TITLE and COVER for this book. The STORYLINE is INTERESTING but what makes it a WONDERFUL experience is the NARRATION and the WRITING STYLE of the author. The protagonist’s name is Sartaj (who belongs to Haryana), an amateur boxer, a normal engineer and he eventually becomes a superhero BADOGA. To know, how does this happen and why did he choose such a name, read this awesome book and join Sartaj as he narrates his adventures with the powerful and mystifying music men.
The story keeps on hopping to different timelines, as and when required but it goes perfectly well with the flow of the adventure series. It begins in the year 2025 when Sartaj is in his superhero character Badoga and is trying to prevent and deal with a crime scene. The location is Bangalore. In 2025, Badoga completes 7 years in the service of “Music Men”. Here he talks about things that have changed in 2025 like Swiggy delivers through a Drone, only Instagram has survived out of the numerous social media platforms, that he saved Mumbai from comet Aragamento and soon there are going to be events of comet restructuring.
“I can’t tell him that I can predict and prevent crime; that I took over this job from a god”.
Then the timeline skips to the year 2017. The interesting part here is that whenever the story hops from one timeline to another, there is an AUTHOR’S NOTE or more appropriately, a note from Badoga explaining exactly the reason for what questions the reader would have in mind when he sees a jump. This part is so awesome and gives a comfortable continuity to the story. Also we find ILLUSTRATIONS peppered here and there in the book for giving form to the reader’s creativity and amplifying the effect. In 2017, new characters, Ranjana, and Vishal are introduced. Vishal is Sartaj’s 8 years roommate and childhood friend. Ranjana is a common friend. The CHARACTER SKETCH of Sartaj is of a tall, bulky, muscular, amateur boxer. He is hot-headed and a total brat brought up in an affluent family of Haryana and is the only child. He’s 28 and still single. The author describes Sartaj as a normal boy with vices like drinking, using foul language, and one who is always ready to mingle. The timeline again skips, to 2010 where a brief up about the trio is given, and then again, we jump to 2013.
Here the author discusses, how Sartaj seeps down to depression, drinking and ruining his life and how he surfaces back up and starts with his childhood love, boxing, again. Mother’s unconditional love and faith in the potential of their child are also highlighted. This was to give a backstory for Badoga. The story moves to 2014. Ranjana gets insights about Sartaj’s childhood from Vishal and his school life, his desire to be a macho superhero, etc is discussed. The reason for Ranjana taking so much interest is revealed later in the book.
Then we come to 2015. He talks about taking out his frustrations in the form of a physical exercise, boxing, and music being his relaxation therapy. Now we enter the year 2016. Now this future superhero is feeling himself to be a loser, heartbroken in love, and is also scared of heights. He has been troubled and getting the same dream for several years, since childhood, a nightmare. Sartaj talks about his love for a superhero comic character in his childhood days and how he aspired to be like him. Ranjana keeps on pushing him saying he’s been born for a higher purpose. With that thought we enter 2017.
Excerpt from the book, one of the author/ Sartaj notes before every change of timeline;
“One doesn’t just become a superhero overnight. Well, I did. Ha! Ha! But how? Did a spider bite me? Let’s find out! 2018”.
Now from here on, the most exciting part of the book begins which talks about;
# how did Sartaj become Badoga?
# what does Badoga mean?
# will he really become a superhero? how?
# why is he the chosen one?
# what would be his superpowers?
# what will happen of Ranjana and Vishal?
And a lot more questions crop up while we read on, which are answered by the time we reach the end.
Point to be noted, Sartaj is not an ardent believer in God and his existence but does recite Hanuman Chalisa when fear strikes him.
The book has an open ending and an exciting one at that. Also we get a sneak peek into the 2nd book of the Music Men Volume 2. I would recommend this book for anyone and everyone who wants to read something bright, creative, cheerful, full of life, and something which is exciting and brings a spark in a dull routine. Definitely an awesome fantasy, adventure, fiction series book although I would not recommend it for kids because of the use of some foul language/ words here and there. It sure talks about music, both Indian and International, off and on. A wonderful read. I applaud the author at a fabulous debut attempt. The book can be relished free, presently as an eBook on Amazon Kindle.
Author Name: Pankaj Saini
Book Title: Music Men Volume 1 : Badoga
Publisher: Notion Press (4 November 2019)
Paperback: 298 pages
Review by: Criticpsace Journal