Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Great Indian Novel - Shashi Tharoor

It’s not often that I would label a review as a eulogy. Bear with me because this is going to be one.

Some books you read and forget,
Some books you read and regret,
Some books, you wish you had read earlier,
Some books, you wish were more clear,
Some books you love at that instant,
Some books you remember from back to front!!
But there is one category of books which you would perpetually cherish,
Which, with time and age, would never perish.
Those are the epics, eternal like gravel,
One of which is “The Great Indian Novel”.

Yes, this is an epic – much like its NAME seems to depict. Novelists create magic by showing the brutal truth or by illustrating in words the most beautiful fantasies; but when the two are mixed together, you get something beyond magic, a piece of work which will go down in the annals of history as a piece of sheer brilliance. The Great Indian Novel is that piece of brilliance. Shashi Tharoor has probably written one of the most interesting Indian fiction novel, which is as much a satire as a reflection on our History of politics.

The book has an amazing mix of two of the most important topics in Indian History and Mythology – The Indian Freedom Struggle and Mahabharata. Yes, and you wont for one sentence feel that they are two disparate works, the blend is so complete. The amount of work that must have been put in actually going through various versions and interpretations of Mahabharata and our Freedom Struggle, must be tremendous. So, here Mr. VV or Ved Vyas starts dictating Indian History to Mr.Ganapathi! Gangaji – father of Pandu and Dhritrashtra - becomes Gandhiji, Dhritrashtra becomes Nehru, Pandu – Subhash Chandra, Duryodhini ( that’s the creative divert!) becomes Indira Gandhi and so on and so forth. Its not that each character has a freedom fighter or politician associated with him or her, but to each there is a purpose. The story starts from the birth of Ved Vyas, the rise of Ganga Datta or Gandhiji , to the great war between Duryodhini and the Pandavas, to the eventual fall of the Great Pandavas. If History was taught this imaginatively, I would have been a Historian!

Kudos to Shashi Tharoor, I bow to his divine skills. He effortlessly moves from subtle humour, to profound wisdom. He is as adept in writing a 100 line poem as in trivial banter. Some times you would really feel like giving the writer an applause for the sheer wit employed. This truly is a GREAT INDIAN NOVEL, figuratively and literally. I sincerely hope you pick it up and read as soon as possible. I think you would believe you have reached a completely different level of Reading when you start this one and then mediocrity will be easy to distinguish. Read 2 pages and you are transfixed.

Finally I quote the Indian Express – “Every sane Indian should buy a copy of this book” – I would like to tinker with it a bit – “Every Indian, sane or insane or otherwise, should not only buy this book, but read it!!!” Salaam, Shashi.


Anonymous said...

I agree, Its a fabulous book , and I second Fundamentors reccomendation...

Anonymous said...

Hey nice review man,.. seem you are also as good with poems! Will definitely read this one