Author and computer geek Sree Iyer, an inventor and out-of-the-box thinker, has 37 patents in the areas of hardware, software, encryption and systems. This, combined with his passion for writing about all matters related to politics and the moolah that makes the world go around, has translated into a three-part “Money” series of political thrillers.
With an elaborate cast of characters, some constant and some who flit in an out, the series is a vast sweep that begins in the second decade of the 21st century and continues to the present day, bringing alive, albeit jerkily, events that many of us have lived through and wondered at the twists and turns that have occurred along the way, many of them surrealistic.
It might seem daunting but the 900-plus page trilogy is best read at a stretch but it is a page-turner and well worth dropping everything else to fully absorb its intricacies, nuances, plots and sub-plots.
It begins with “Who Painted My Money White?” and a diabolical plan by the ruling Freedom Party to weaken India.
A ship carrying two containers, each containing Rs 5,000 crore in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, docks in the dark of night at Kochi. The money is quickly distributed to members of a minority community using a network of 100 chartered accountants. The bulk of the money finds its way back into fake firms, shell corporations and charities with the sole aim of destabilizing the country.
Greedy politicians of the Freedom Party want to ensure that the opposition can never come to power by pandering to the largest minority, enriching them beyond their expectations and ensuring they will be with the party. To this end, a plan is hatched to print high denomination money and try and increase the velocity of money, thereby creating the illusion of growth. A compromised Finance Minister is forced to buy paper from the same sources as India’s rival Pakistan. Their intelligence wing gets hold of the security threads being used in Indian notes through honey trapping and comes up with notes that are almost as good as the real ones.
The fake money brought in slowly starts moving around the country, driving up inflation and real estate prices, mixing with good notes. Because of a series of scams, the government gets voted out and a single party, People’s Voice, gets absolute majority.
The new party responds to a terrorist attack with a surgical strike deep in enemy territory.
Pakistan decides to retaliate by flooding India with fake currency, by tripling its fake currency production. India responds by demonetising the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and printing new notes of a different size. But despite the best attempts, a porous border with Nepal and Bangladesh results in a significant amount of the fake currency entering Indian banks. When the notes are tallied, instead of 87 per cent of printed notes coming back to the Reserve Bank, 113 per cent comes back.
The counterfeit money is used to spawn different types of nefarious activities including a plot to assassinate the newly elected Prime Minister. Will the Intelligence Bureau track the assassin and protect the Prime Minister?
In book two, “Who Painted My Lust Red?” the focus shifts to cricket and the “IPL”, but don’t mistake it what you think it is.
Why is the IPL being held in Dubai? What is the attraction? As many Indian politicians descend to watch IPL games, an upcoming politician suffers a procedure that is intended to send a message to the debauched. Why was Bollywood roped in to add glamour? This story of fiction describes it all.
When an upstart Media Mogul decides to take on the established Indian Cricket Board (ICB) and the newly formed 20-20 league is a huge success, the ICB decides to fight back. It assigns an aggressive industrialist the job of creating a rival Twenty-20 league system that is far, far superior to the 20-20 of the Media Mogul.
To ensure that it would be a success, ICB ropes in the glamour of Bollywood and the glitz of politicians and movie stars to attend the games. Crowds go wild with frenzy, watching their favourite icons in the flesh, waving to them, and rising and falling with the fortunes of the team they were rooting for.
The after-game parties are over-the-top affairs with plenty of sex and sleaze as no one is spared in the tsunami that followed the games. A group of three smart, young actresses looking to burst out into stardom are raped after being drugged in an after-party game in Dubai. Moreover, a few politicians were linked to Dilawar, the mafia don of Mumbai, laying in exile in Dubai who controls all the hawala agents in India to launder the money of the politicians.
Some senior ministers get notified of what would happen to them if they do not mend their ways. A gory picture of a severed body part is sent as a reminder. They in turn, decide to use their ministerial clout to depute ace trouble-shooters Priya Menon and Karan Dixit to get to the bottom of the affair; to determine who is behind all this.
Will they succeed? Will the three wronged actresses exact revenge?
Book three of the trilogy is titled “Who Painted My Future Bright?”
After a disastrous incident, key ISI operative Pervez Pasha decides he needs to use a different method to achieve his objective, destroying a power station in the south. An elaborate plan, fine-tuned over several months is about to turn to fruition when ace trouble-shooters Priya Menon and Karan Dixit get involved.
Meanwhile, with the passing of Dipika Sharma, the matriarch of the Freedom Party, her son Gulab and his sister’s quarrels come out in the open, threatening to split the party vertically.
Enter the suave and sophisticated Supremo, Mahadev Shastri, after spending a few years in the US. A shrewd politician, from the Raja Rao mould, Supremo manages to side-line the Sharmas and takes control of the party, while three marionettes, Maida, Maker, Dalda, and Girgut watch and fume, by pulling off an upset win in a southern state, that gives him the gravitas to stake a claim for the leadership of the Freedom Party.
Next step: UP elections. Will Supremo be able to weave his magic and win back the state that the Freedom Party ruled more than three decades ago? Will Maida et al sabotage him? What about the Sharma loyalists?
Will the ace duo of Karan-Priya stop the ISI in its tracks? Will Freedom Party’s rebirth under Supremo be enough to test the People Party’s juggernaut?
The “Money” series is a work of fiction that draws on real-life incidents and situations. At the bottom line, it compels readers to draw their own conclusions.