Thursday, April 13, 2017

Float or wade: Review of Ashwini Sanghi's Chanakya's Chant

The book had been borrowed after I finished reading The Krishna Key. Something or the other kept coming up and I could not settle down with the book. But then I decided to take my life in my own hands and managed to wade through this massive book (441 pages plus some more, bibliography etc). 

Now you might wonder why am I using this particular verb- wade. If you are anything like me and have a thing for pace or a mother of two with limited access to 'me time' which you spend on reading rather than getting your eyebrows shaped then that is what I suggest you do, if the book is on your to-read list.

The book has interesting portions and some information that any history lover would love but other than the author makes you work hard for the money you have spent on it. The story follows two tracks; one in present day India, where a girl child Chandini, from a Kanpur slum is polished to become the PM of the country, by her mentor who had found (dug out literally) an inscription with a powerful chant inscribed on it. The chant is attributed to Chnakya and that is the second and far more interesting track in the book. This track talks about Alexander's invasion, Dhananand's atrocities and Chandragupta's rise to power through all the scheming and plotting done by Chanakya.

The other track about Chandini is similar to one of the many Hindi movies of the 90s where corruption is shown having a field day and how a common but very intelligent man (the kingmaker) is able to manipulate the system to fulfill his motive of installing his chosen one on to the highest office. The portion is tedious. It reads less like a story and more like a short course on the working of Indian Administrative Services.

Though the author manages to sprinkle some interesting characters in both the tracks of the story, a major put off for me was what came out of their mouths inside "" marks. 

If you have read Reader's Digest of the yore, when it still belonged to De Wallace's original idea then you would understand my pain of seeing famous quotes attributed to the characters like Chanakya ang Gangasagar (the kingmaker) and some others in the novel. To the author's credit, he takes no credit for them and writes 'In the story some key quotes have been attributed to various characters..have been inspired from other sources'. (As far as I am concerned they have been simply lifted and used rather than inspiring the author. So do we have a case of ends justifying the means?)

Dive into the novel at your own peril and choose to wade or float.

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