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K Vijay Kumar’s book on Veerappan is now available as a podcast on Audible

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K Vijay Kumar at the launch at ACJ, Taramani
| Photo Credit: KARUNAKARAN M

There are certain memories that retired Indian Police Service officer K Vijay Kumar often revisits. These are not necessarily action-packed events from Operation Cocoon that he led in 2004 to nab Veerappan, the bandit. Over a phone call from Chennai where he currently lives, he recalls the feeling of “green melancholy” during his days in the Sathyamangalam forests. “It can be used to describe the green, translucent glow deep in the jungle when sunlight falls inside the thick cover,” he says.

Vijay Kumar was the chief of the Special Task Force that was formed to capture Veerappan. He has detailed his team’s capture of the brigand, right from the latter’s birth in Gopinatham in 1952 to his death in a shootout in Padi, in his 2017 book Veerappan: Chasing the Brigand. Now, the book has been adapted into a podcast by digital media venture Asiaville on Audible. Vijay Kumar is all for attempting new ways of putting out content. “One must flow with the current,” he says, speaking about keeping up with changing reading patterns. “The new format will appeal to the younger generation of readers and is easy to consume.”

The podcast comprises 20 episodes and is narrated by Tuhin Menon, the founder and CEO of Asiaville. It presents an immersive experience with sounds such as gunshots and birdsong. “These sounds lend themselves well for the reader’s imagination,” says Vijay Kumar.

K Vijay Kumar at a felicitation function in Chennai on October 30, 2004.

K Vijay Kumar at a felicitation function in Chennai on October 30, 2004.
| Photo Credit:
RAGU R

The book, that the author has enriched with his first-hand accounts of the operation he headed, is perfect for the podcast format. Vijay Kumar feels that most portions have come out well, given that when he wrote it, he strived to “amplify every page with one question or emotion” that will stay on with the reader.

Looking back, does he miss his days in the jungle? “I do,” he says. “It was a difficult life. I was 52, and my boys were 25; but there was a need for me to lead them as part of the exemplary operation. We needed stamina to climb tough terrain. It was a strain on my body.” In the forest, there were no barriers based on ranks. “We would all walk together. I think of those days in a happy, nostalgic light,” he adds.

In the years since Operation Cocoon, plenty has changed. There are several OTT platforms today, and surely, it will make for an engaging true-crime web series? “There are talks along those lines,” says Vijay Kumar, adding that he cannot reveal anything more for now. He is also writing his second novel. “I am trying to keep it light,” he says, promising more details once he is ready.

In an interview with The Hindu during the launch of his book, Vijay Kumar had jokingly said that his wife Meena had not read his book yet. Has she finally read it? “She has just skimmed through it,” he says. Now that it is out as a podcast, she will perhaps get to listen to it. “I hope so,” he laughs.



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