Birds, Beasts and Bandits: 14 Days with Veerappan is the experience of Krupukar and Senani, two wildlife film-makers. This book was originally in Kannada and was translated by S.R.Ramakrishna.
In 1994, the authors come to Bandipur to begin a long term study of wild dogs and make a documentary on them. They build a house adjoining the forest and live there. They are mistaken to be highly paid Government officials by Veerappan and Co and are kidnapped by them. He cannot pronounce their names correctly and calls Senani, Sheni and Krupakar, Krupa. He speaks more to Senani because, of the two, he can converse better in Tamil. They are made to walk in the forest and more people are abducted.
In the forest, they discuss about birds, wildlife, governments, police and jungle experiences. They realize that Veerapan has an in depth knowledge of forests and wildlife. He can interpret the language of the forest and animal calls and has the sensitive grasp of a great writer.
The hostages were fed the unchanging menu of rice and saaru twice a day and his gang would feed the captives first without eating themselves. They would even try to give them some meat at times. They develop familiarity with the gang and are sad to leave them on being and try to postpone the departure.
The book was funny at times, like Krupakar using a spark lighter to light a gas stove fascinates both Veerappan and his guards; the ‘strong’ tea prepared by his men; the description of hornbill and Veerapans mimicking of the animal hunts.
It made me realize that Veerappan was after all a human being just like you and me. He also had his likes and dislikes. He had curiosities; fascination and belief in God. He had his own fears and his own justification for what he was. He was proud of his ‘name’ and anxious about his reputation.
It is a very interesting book. Especially, the narrative style, with the name of the narrator is mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph. The book keeps you hooked till the very end.
Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Penguin India