Jul 15, 2009

Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra


When I pulled out the book from the library shelf I decided upon taking this book home for a couple of reasons. The title of the book did ring a bell in my mind but I also registered the fact that this author was not the same one who wrote an equally thick book “A Suitable Boy”. Somehow, I am not in love with most Indian authors. I do not why I just cannot get to like their stories, their way of writing or their take on Indian way of living. Perhaps it is our education which has kind of ensconced the British English and their literature well in our minds. So when we read books we still expect similar kind of writing. At least I do (sigh). However, I did like few authors and Vikram Seth and Jhumpa Lahiri were among them. Hence the primary assumptions while selecting the book were that I would be keeping myself busy thanks to the thick volume and it would hopefully be a nice read like the author’s namesake (by first name:D ). 

Both assumptions weren’t fully correct. I realized that I really am a voracious reader and my abundant free time helps me in finishing the books earlier than either me or my family would like. My mother’s frequent complaint is that I almost gobble the books when they come from the library. I behave as they would be taken away from me very soon and hence the only action left to me is to finish reading them as soon as I can. Thankfully this volume kept me busy during the days of no phone and Internet connection. I am one of the present generation who somehow cannot live without at least 5 mins of Internet surfing a day, at home. While traveling I am usually sane without any such connection but one never knows. 

Regarding the author, I hardly remember Seth’s style of writing, but I wasn’t very pleased with Chandra’s. Perhaps it was the indulgent use of Bombay Hindi, more known as “tapori” language. With just one book I feel I am quite familiar with the street talk. Unfortunately most of the terms are used by the police and gangsters. While the writing didn’t exactly enthrall me, I really liked the story and the plot, especially the way he kept two different loops of story telling on the same events run parallely. One was happening in the present and one was telling the story from past. 

Chandra claimed to have undergone a lot of research in the beginning of the book. Hence I assume a lot of the story is based on few real-life incidents. With the intersecting lives of mafia dons, Bollywood, one would feel at many places that some characters are probably based on people we know. I haven’t figured out any till now though I am still ruminating. There are numerous characters all throughout the story. Some have lives of just few pages but their stories are very interesting and touching like Navneet behenji, Dipika. I am yet to find a male character whose life touched me! Most part of the book is about a don and a policeman investigating his death. There are countless characters and most are interconnected. The book also seems to have an invisible moral of Karma in many of the mini stories as well as the main one. Funnily or happily, the don dies a sad death while the supposedly good police man leads a happy life. However, on second thought I have read about these people ending their lives rather violently. Prabhakaran who was quite a don in his own way is probably a recent example. Overall, the book is quite an interesting read though the language really pained me. The best part of the book as mentioned already is the story and thanks to it I have been seriously wondering where the divide ends between research and fiction.
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