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12May

How to Kidnap the Rich by Rahul Raina review – a satire on modern India

In this savage cinematic caper about an academic fraudster, social commentary meets standup comedy

The opening chapter of How to Kidnap the Rich comes to a close with the narrator, a chai wallah’s son and con artist, clarifying that this isn’t a story about poverty, it’s a story about wealth. A few pages further in, we’re told that Delhi isn’t saffron; isn’t spice – it’s sweat. In Rahul Raina’s satirical state-of-the-nation debut, which slices into the soul of contemporary Indian society, things aren’t always the way they appear.

Ramesh Kumar is himself a sham. Having long left behind a childhood filled with abject poverty on the streets of East Delhi, a “grey smear on Google Maps”, he becomes an “examinations consultant” who commits academic fraud. Now a self-proclaimed “charming, witty, urbane man about town”, he sits entrance exams that are entry points to the west – the best universities, “the whitest lives” – for the elite. When Rudi, a teenager with a “no-matches-on-Tinder-face”, opts for the “All India Examinations: Premium Package”, little does Ramesh know that it will gain him beyond-belief riches and cost him a finger. If you place in the top thousand, it’s your ticket out of India. But what if you rank first?

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