Saturday, 12 May 2012

Chanakya's Chant - Ashwin Sanghi

The year is 340 BC. A hunted, haunted Brahmin youth vows revenge for the gruesome murder of his beloved father. Cold, calculating, cruel and armed with a complete absence of accepted morals, he becomes the most powerful political strategist in Bharat and succeeds in uniting a ragged country against the invasion of the army of that demigod, Alexander the Great. Pitting the weak edges of both forces against each other, he pulls off a wicked and astonishing victory and succeeds in installing Chandragupta on the throne of the mighty Mauryan empire.

History knows him as the brilliant strategist Chanakya. Satisfied—and a little bored—by his success as a kingmaker, through the simple summoning of his gifted mind, he recedes into the shadows to write his Arthashastra, the ‘science of wealth’. But history, which exults in repeating itself, revives Chanakya two and a half millennia later, in the avatar of Gangasagar Mishra, a Brahmin teacher in smalltown India who becomes puppeteer to a host of ambitious individuals—including a certain slumchild who grows up into a beautiful and powerful woman.

Modern India happens to be just as riven as ancient Bharat by class hatred, corruption and divisive politics and this landscape is Gangasagar’s feasting ground. Can this wily pandit—who preys on greed, venality and sexual deviance—bring about another miracle of a united India? Will Chanakya’s chant work again?

Ashwin Sanghi


A tale full of 'content' exhibiting the diplomatic skills of two similar people - the great Chanakya and Gangasagar Mishra. One could not help but notice their quest for power and how they use their wits to become a successful kingmaker.The numerous quotes such as 'The early bird gets the worm, but its the second rat that gets the cheese' stand out.The characters like Chandini , Chandragupta are mere puppets in the diplomats' show.

But,after a while,the frequent mentioning of their cunningness and diplomatic skills through a lot of incidents starts boring.Yes,they are witty but why overdo it? The characters apart from the two protagonists are not developed properly.They seem shallow and it seems the author had forgotten that its the side - characters that lend the main - characters their substance.The story loses its element in a few places and its just like reading a newspaper, full of information. The book efficiently portrays today's condition in politics.All you have to do is bring a glamour actress in your election campaign and you are almost sure to win.

Chanakya's story is a little better handled than Gangasagar's.I found myself wishing Chanakya's story would never end.The way Chanakya plans every moves,the way he overthrows Paurus,the way he makes Alexander fall into his trap are just a treat to read.Gangasagar's place,the heart of India,Uttar Pradesh is shown just like any other Indian city with both the extremes.The author could have shortened his descriptions and omitted many unnecessary events to make it a gripping read.

Negatives apart, Ashwin Sanghi is certainly developing as a master in historical thriller after his twin success with 'The Rozabal Line' and 'Chanakya's Chant'. Its really nice to say that Dan Brown has an Indian competitor.

As far as 'Chanakya's Chant' is concerned,not a bad book to read if you are looking for some change from the usual mystery, romance and thriller.

Rating: 3/5

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