Chanakya’s ChantAshwin SanghiWestlandRs 195pp 448
Take Prakash Jha's movie Raajneeti. Chuck the boring bits out and make the Chanakya-like character played by Nana Patekar the protagonist. Keep the internal monologues and descriptions as taut as a held-by-the-thumb sacred thread and we have Ashwin Sanghi's cracker of a pageturner, Chanakya's Chant. Two narratives flow like the Ganga and Yamuna, one, located 2,300 years ago in the kingdom of Magadha where Chanakya seeks and gets his vengeance; the other in the slightly distant future (the 18th prime minister is being sworn in before the narrative goes into flashback) where Gangasagar Mishra gets down and dirty to play the kingmaker in India's politics. Sanghi peppers his novel with quotes from folks as disparate as Benjamin Franklin, Oscar Wilde and Mao Zedong. But for the reader of this brisk technicoloured thriller, here's a book that will be familiar in its details for all desi observers of politics and the psycho-drama behind it all.