Review – “Based on Lies, It Begins” by Debarshi Kanjilal

Based on Lies, It Begins by Debarshi Kanjilal is a psychological thriller, the first of a 2-series novella, following the life of the protagonist Anuraag Sanyal. Living in Bengal, this married man pens down entries in his diary about his life, past and present, and takes the reader on a surprise ride.

The story opens with Anuraag in the middle of the night, suffering from insomnia, writing in his diary about everything under the sun, his childhood, his troubled marriage with Aditi, his past lover Niharika, the nearby cafe owner, etc. What begins as a rant about the love lost between the couple, soon turns into something much deep, and dark. With both hiding secrets and putting on a facade, it’s difficult to take sides. Anuraag’s entries flit between the past and the present, reminiscing the incidents that have had a major impact on his life. During the course of the entries, several truths are revealed, although it is done so by Anuraag, it involves his wife and the cafe owner too. Before the book ends, Anuraag admits to some crimes he had committed in the past, and leaves the diary for Aditi, wondering if she would hand over his diary to the police.

Narrated in the first person, this book is written in the form of a personal diary by the lead and divided into several chapters/entries. The language, despite being lucid is not your simple, Indian fiction English, but gives the satisfaction of reading a good, above-average piece of literature. To help matters, I couldn’t find any editing or grammatical errors as such and it became a boon of sorts. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad quality to be able to convey feelings in the simplest form possible, because the author here does it. When I previously wrote about the language being lucid, I meant it not only in it’s physical but in its metaphysical form as well. Simply put, the story that comes out from the simple words that make the sentences in this book is heavy-duty, yet it doesn’t impact the mind to that great an extent which could disturb the reader, but only to the point where the reader is left astound. The art of layering in a thriller is very important, especially when it’s going to play with people’s’ psychology, it must be treated upon with extreme caution. A quick rip off or a too slow peeling might just ruin everything. Not here though. While the story begins with an exceedingly simple topic of a troubled marriage, yet when it moves forward, it brings with itself a plethora of invisible layers, emotions, and motives, uncovered so subtly that makes the ride bumpless. Yes, there is no excitement throughout, yet it still forces the reader to turn the pages, more out of inquisitiveness than an adrenaline rush. It is not the traditional “on the edge of the seat thriller” but rather an ingenious one and leaves a mark without huge pomp and show. The twist and turns that happen, are unexpected and sudden, but it doesn’t hit hard. The blow is softened by the fact that the author has penned his words cautiously. There are several characters that are present in the story, none so built up as that of the lead, which is beautifully crafted and leaves no stone unturned to let the reader see his psyche, all bare and vulnerable. For other characters, most of the time, it’s just a fleeting impression that is left, before they are bumped off, out of the plot, or out of the world entirely. Others, who form an integral part of the lead’s life are given a bit more space, although in a limit. I hope to see more of them in the next part.
Psychological thrillers are a difficult genre, writing so that the reader’s mind is played with and made numb with thinking about what happened is indeed not easy. An unusual read, go for it if you enjoy thrillers, this one will definitely be one of it’s kind in your reading list.


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