Monday, August 19, 2013

My Take On : Book : Chanakya's Chant

Chankaya's Chant is a gripping novel written by Ashwin Sanghi, the best selling author in historical/political thrillers genre. It tells two stories of different times in parallel. 

The first story takes us through the life of a great historical figure, Chanakya, the author of Arthashastra, and the legendary political genius who aided Chandragupta Maurya to acquire the empire of Magadha.

The second story is set in current times, present India. Pandit Gangasagar Mishra is shown as modern day Chanakya, who plays the similar role of kingmaker, for his pupil Chandini Gupta, by helping her rise through politics to reach the top desk of Prime Minister of India.

It is a nice entertainer. It's gripping due to its political premise.

But I kept realizing its flaws, while reading, even though it wasn't boring.

The Chanakya's story is historical, and I didnt quite enjoy the liberty author has taken to alter the history to suit better in his novel.
The readers who are not aware of the Chanakya's history may not notice this.

In this novel, Chanakya abuses his ex-girlfriend as sacrifice for the nation. And she then curses him, but then tells him a mantra that may lead to power. On a condition that it should be used to empower a women. Gangasagar of modern times discovers this mantra, as a text written by Chanakya. He uses it to help Chandini. I felt this far stretched. Gangasagar taking inspiration from Chanakya's thoughts in Arthashastra instead of such imaginary magical chant would have been more realistic. Instead, author chooses to have Gangasagar rely on a chant, told by Suvasini, inscribed on a ancient stone by Chanakya. That he makes it more magical than tactical.

Another problem is, though challenges faced by Gangasagar in state and national politics are enjoyable till some point, after that the challenges and solutions by Gangasagar feel very simplistic and repetitive.

The historical part of Chankaya is less exciting than the modern Gangasagar's due to narration. Ironically, the history of was more eventful and thrilling than the ficitional life of Gangasagar.

Keep Gangasagar and Chanakya apart, the other characters are shown as stupid. The ruling kings of states in history, ministers having spent years in politics seem stupid in front of Chanakya and Gangasagar. And their pupils Chandragupta, and Chandini also are shown as mere puppets rather than individuals with great talent who have made it big with right guidance from their mentors. Being great amongst stupid people is easy, and when you do great things with people of respectable caliber is something makes one a legend. This novel projects Chanakya as one doing the former.

But with all its flaws I mentioned, its still an enjoyable read.

My Rating for this Book : ***