Dholak Jaiswal wants his money back from Bunty, so he escapes to Fort Madhavgarh with his friend, Jai, and the girl of his dreams, Divya. When his uncle, the fort’s owner, refuses to help him, Jai decides to steal Jahangir’s Egg – but he’s not the only one. Can Bunty save the day and win over Divya?
Jahangir’s Egg is a literary laugh riot in a near idyllic world, where acerbic wit and gentlemanly barbs are the weapons of choice, although the occasional threat of violence does rear its head at times.
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The blistering late morning rays slipped through the tear in the faded olive green curtains and danced upon Bunty Mathur’s furrowed brow, trying to iron out the creases that had given his otherwise amiable appearance a rather constipated look. Their efforts were misplaced however for Bunty, quite contrary to the impression conveyed by his brow, was simply trying to concentrate hard, a task characteristically difficult for someone blessed with only a moderate reservoir of grey cells.
Bunty’s fingers clutched the thin sheet that was masquerading as a blanket and pulled it across his face, instantly exposing his large feet to a cold draft coming from the beaten air-cooling unit in the corner. He simply wiggled his toes, choosing to brave the discomfort over the possibility of losing a shot at meeting his one true love. Experts would have attributed his thumping heartbeat and rapid breathing to the phenomenon referred to as REM sleep. Bunty however would have simply raised an eyebrow and pointed at the svelte figure dressed flatteringly in a tight red outfit walking ahead with her back to him.
Of course, he would not have been able to explain his presence on a lonely road in Ooty, especially since he had spent the previous night eating unhealthy quantities of pizza in front of the television in his tiny rented room in Mumbai. The left side of his pint-sized brain had made a valiant attempt to question the incongruity, only to be swept away by a rush of phenylethylamine, also known as the love chemical, at the sudden appearance of the beautiful vision through thick white mist. The scene was an exact rendition of the romantic drama which had consumed Bunty only two nights ago. Unfortunately, the effect was such that his movements were also in slow motion. After all, the joy is in the details.
All of a sudden, the hills of Ooty shook violently, leaving Bunty a tad concerned but unwavering in his resolve to see the damsel’s face. The next tremor almost sent him sprawling, in slow motion naturally. He never made it to the ground though, for the tremor that followed pulled him right out of Ooty, even as he desperately tried to cling to the fluttering red scarf that had caressed his face. With his next breath, Bunty found himself awake in his small bed, staring at a poster of Nondita Sengupta, once a top celebrity but now relegated to late-night infomercials on the benefits of evil eye pendants.
Bunty closed his eyes tightly, hoping that this action would transport him back to the vales of Ooty to continue his romantic tryst with the girl in red. Alas, there was a series of tremors, very much felt in his room in Mumbai, that threatened to not only knock the door off its hinges but also Bunty out of his bed.
‘Open up, you filthy rat,’ a harsh voice thundered from outside and followed it with the choicest of abuses.
‘Jaiswal’s henchmen,’ Bunty sighed, directing a rueful smile at Nondita. ‘But we both knew this day would come. I only wish we could have spent more time together.’ He heaved his sloth-like body out of bed and stretched his limbs, seeming unmindful of the deafening thuds ringing on his fragile door.
Bunty reckoned that while there wasn’t any time for his customary shave that was mostly followed by a long shower, the situation would certainly permit a few cold splashes of water on his face. For a man of his meagre intelligence, he had apparently displayed rare foresight on this occasion, having laid out a neatly ironed shirt with stripes of pink and a pair of black trousers on a nearby chair. However the packed brown suitcase standing grimly by the windowsill had a different story to tell, namely that its owner had gained tremendously from numerous similar experiences. And so, it took but a couple of minutes for Bunty to gather his world and sneak out of the window and down the circular flight of rusted iron stairs.
T. Murugan, head muscle of Dholak Jaiswal, stepped softly out of the shadows and grabbed Bunty’s collar the moment he set foot on the ground. He growled, flaring his already voluminous nostrils.
Bunty’s legs were accustomed to these situations but before he could attempt an escape, they found themselves cycling in the air. ‘Ahem,’ Bunty said, while twisting his neck in the same instant to get a better look at his captor. ‘I say, is this any way to treat your fellow men?’
Murugan let out another grunt, tightening his grip.
‘A man of few words,’ Bunty said, feet still dangling in the air. ‘You remind me of me. And that’s why I’m going to make you an offer of a lifetime. A month’s free supply of New Holland Plume, the world’s best hair growth oil sourced from the finest emu farm in Western Australia. It’s yours, if you just let me go.’
Murugan turned his fist, providing Bunty a clear view of the barren landscape that sat upon his bulbous head.
Bunty’s eyes scanned the shining pate thoughtfully. ‘I do see a few…shrubs,’ he said, trying to infuse some optimism in his observation. ‘Yes, I firmly believe the situation is salvageable. Perhaps a month more…’
Bunty’s eloquence needed no further waxing though, for a fortuitous gift from the heavens, or more accurately, from a pigeon perched upon the ledge outside his window, changed the dynamics of the game. The pigeon squatted on its stumpy legs and torpedoed a generous dropping on T. Murugan’s right cheek. The result was perhaps somewhat unexpected. T. Murugan, trained though he was to take bullets to the chest without so much as a murmur, was completely unprepared to be splattered with pigeon poop. He stumbled back a few paces, losing momentary control of his hands as they twitched instinctively to wipe the goo of his face.
Bunty, who had only recently started taking samba lessons, executed a brilliant mid-air twist and squirmed out of the man’s hold, landing on the ground with the grace of a gazelle. But instead of taking a bow, which would have been out of context anyway, he swung his suitcase, connecting smartly with T. Murugan’s noggin. An ardent admirer of the action film genre, Bunty would have preferred to inspect the damage. As things went though, he just didn’t have the time.
T. Murugan hardly felt the suitcase but had his ego been under observation, it would have been unanimously described as turning a bright mauve. Bunty, though endowed with the intelligence of an insect, was also fortunately blessed with their instinct and reached the end of the alley before T. Murugan’s bushy eyebrows could cross each other’s paths. Ever the consummate professional though, he popped his head back. ‘Just so that we’re clear, the deal is off the table.’
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