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Friday, August 5, 2011

Book Review: Chanaya's Chant

Author: Ashwin Sanghi
Format: papaerback/handbound
Language: English
Pages: 468
Price: RS.195
Publishers: Westland
 When did the last time I felt complete after reading a book- well! It was “Midnight’s Children”, it was “A hundred years of solitude”, it was “The great Indian novel” and it was “Chanakya’s Chant”. I was hunting for books that would give me a chance to experience parallel plots running through the very veins of the book. The sheer shift from present to the past in the very first chapter was what I was looking for. And more than “Rozzabal Line” the author’s “Chanakya’s chant” succeeded in quenching that thirst of a wandering soul. The spine thrilling chants-“Adi Shakti, Namo namah; sarab shakti, namo namah;prithum bhagvati, namo namah; kundalini mata shakti; mata shakti, namo namah’- will stay with you even after you have dived into the early years of the making of Sanghi’s modern day Kautilya Pandit Gangasagar Mishra.

The novel salutes a saint more known for his cunning ways to avenge his father’s death and for his “arthashastra”- that can be placed only beside other masterpieces like Machiavelli’s “The Prince”. But Sanghi’s Chanakya is a man of flesh and blood- whose chants will feel the air and drive you back to those ancient days, when India was nothing but a group of fighting kingdoms; whose kings were carousing in wine and womanly pleasure and whose ministers would run the states much with the interest for filling up their own coffers. Intriguing he must be, but never so enchantingly overpowering- Sanghi makes impressive arrangements to make Chanakya more enigmatic by bringing in his present day reincarnation- Pandit Gangasagar Mishra.

If Chanakya is the cunning ever scheming Mishra of the fictional India, then modern day reincarnation of the much favored Chandragupta Maurya is none other than protégée Chandini Gupta. Both the masters aim to see their disciplines at the highest seat of power. Through calculated deceit, shrewd manipulation of the goon power, and proper utilization of the erstwhile “divide and rule” they achieve their dreams- even if it means to sacrifice their personal desires, interest and passions. A master can live in a thatched hut or a murky lane of an industrial belt in dusty Kanpur seat. But his focus remains on the throne of Magadha and the seat of the Prime Minister of India simultaneously.

Sanghi creates the dungeons of the ancient world with equal dexterity as he builds up the political character of his white clad fictional figures. This book is recommended to those who had a history of hating HISTORY, to those who would love to read indianized Frederick Forsyth, and even to those who are ready to stay hooked to books from the first page to the last full stop.

My personal reviews:

Honestly speaking, ROZABAL LINE brought connections with MR. Brown, only because both, MR. Sanghi and MR. Brown, wrote on the same topic. I think, if we put out the patriotic clique, and just say weaving a tale with three parallel plots and building a story out of the whole historical contest should call for standing ovation, I don't think I am saying too much. Chanakya's Chant did the same, we do...n't need to bring out controversial novels, we need original novels and if we still believe that history repeats itself- then the two novels are righteous followers of the same. Have recommended and gifted friends this book- and told them..."you don't need to look to west to understand how stories with parallel narratives are born, you can read Ashwin's two books and also Gao Xingjian's 'Soul Mountain" to learn more about it.

My ratings:5/5
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1 comment:

Atul Kumar Thakur said...

Excellent review...touched thoroughly.Will love to read it soon and hope my likeness will be similar as of Shreya..