Tuesday, 3 May 2016

'The Sialkot Saga' - By Ashwin Sanghi

'The Sialkot Saga' – A book packed with the hues of an important era of the Indian society, a true flash-back of that golden era with a proper nostalgic punch to it!

A short review.

To start with, the book looks pretty big and heavily stuffed. Initially, I was skeptical how I was going to wrap it up with a modest review in a week. But believe me, it went off pretty smooth. The book is a product of a well-planned plot, a certain thought to the story-line and an approach that has been predefined artistically. Ashwin Sanghi is a story-teller of a different class. He has a perfect control on how he drives his story. His matured writing doesn’t spill a bean on what is planned ahead. It is like traveling through a dark tunnel with absolutely no idea what will open up soon. The negligible amount of inkling he allows is the most salient feature of this book. Till the last page was turned, I had no idea what was coming. It is that fine stitched.

The story is grandiose. This was my first attempt to read any of Ashwin’s work. And he has stood up high for the expectations. It caught my undivided attention right from line one. With a nicely crafted prologue that is so close to the heart of every Indian, Ashwin strikes his first blow. He digs down in our past; 250 BCE Pataliputra originally built by Magadha ruler Ajatashatru and the kingdom that reminds us of the great Emperor Ashoka. King Ashoka is vowed to keep a secret. A secret, which is to be passed to the next generation, a secret worth of many lives and more than any valuable material on this planet is to be defended and handed over to the next reliable individual. The secret is passed, secretly! The book is divided into logical chapters and is partitioned into a mix of important reigns from the past (Like 350 CE, Kosambi) and each decade from 1950 to 2010 in an interleaved fashion. The entire book-plot revolves around the lives of Arvind Bagadia and Arbaaz Sheikh. It frames on how they both start with their life at different topographical locations of the nation and how fortune gets them together, tangles them into a business competition, unwillingly puts them into an awkward relationship, asks them to barb at each other, compels them to lit up the life of other on fire and a destiny that guns them down, together. A tale which is a fascinating blend of thrill, business, politics and utter shrewdness captivates you all along. Not just with Arvind and Arbaaz, all the characters of the story are portrayed excellently. Ashwin has successfully plotted all the events that have shaped up the Indian society since 1950. He hasn’t flinched to put it all upright across his readers nor has he fumbled to make use of these chronological events that play an indispensable part of his narrative. The Emergency enforced by Indira Gandhi, her assassination, the rise of Rajiv Gandhi, the parallel yet slow rise of Jansangh and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the brutal end of Rajiv Gandhi, the come-back of PV Narasimha Rao, Godhra riots and the upsurge of Narendra Modi. He hasn’t failed to capture these ‘you-name-it’ milestones of the Indian outfit.

The book is a worthy read; fictional yet carved on the structure of factual incidents spices it up to the next level. I can’t wait to put my hands on the books of Ashwin that I haven’t read. For now, it’s a clean go and a smile for ‘The Sialkot Saga’.

Good luck with your future goals, Ashwin!
                                                                                                                                      - Vazir

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