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Ten Minutes to Six challenges accepted notions of wartime loyalty through the transformation of one man from loyal servant of the British Empire to rebel spy.
Kumar Nair is dismissed from a British para-military unit for refusing to disperse unarmed women agitating for India’s independence from colonial rule. He moves to Singapore just before the outbreak of the war after the Great Depression destroys his fledgling business. After the fall of Singapore, he joins a secret espionage school set up by Japanese Intelligence and the rebel Indian National Army in Penang, Malaya. When several cadets trained at the school are betrayed by a double agent, and captured by the British, Kumar is sent on a rescue mission with conflicting instructions. The Japanese want Kumar to continue the espionage mission with surviving agents. Indian leaders, not trusting Japanese intentions, ask Kumar to save as many agents as possible and hunker down until the end of the war. Will Kumar succeed in his desperate quest to cross wartime borders, rescue his fellow trainees, and return to his young wife in Malabar?
Ten Minutes to Six is a tale of three interwoven journeys: Kumar’s physical journey through a rich visual arc from Malabar paddies through the Anglo-Chinese mosaic of Singapore, pagoda-strewn Rangoon, and the jungles of Burma; the transformation of an impetuous man to a thoughtful soul in the midst of shifting boundaries between friend and foe; and the backdrop of India’s tumultuous march to independence.
The author: Vijay Balakrishnan (Balan)