SACRED GAMES by VIKRAM CHANDRA: A REVIEW.

Some call it the Indian Godfather and some a masterpiece of Dickensian literature. May be it’s the size of the book or the fact that it won an Indian writer the highest advance ever by a publisher (1 million US Dollars), may be it’s the language or the narrative style, or may be it’s the intertwined plots and sub-plots, but at the end you will have to agree that Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games, is an interesting read. Not only being massive in the size and advance payments, it’s also massive in structure, in characters and in interlinked stories taking off in Bombay and then flying to all corners of the world. His novel is bold and confident of itself, just like the city of Bombay it deals with. It’s dirty with obscenities and vulgar language, bloody with violence and yet human emotions and feelings, frustrations and fears rise above all of them in this 900 paged epic size novel. Through out the book Chandra changes his style, satisfying the character who narrates. Sometimes it’s through the eyes of an international gangster, sometimes of an inspector, sometimes of an old intelligence officer who is suffering from memory weakness and on the verge of dying, or even at one instance through the eyes of a poverty-ridden and mislead youth who ends up as a Naxal. He plays with the forms of story telling to give us a really entertaining yet realistic story.
The theme of his novel, the mid 90’s Bombay, clashes between the underworld and the cops, is a very vast topic, with lots of pros and cons. Chandra does not limit his story to a point. He lets his brush go up to wherever the canvass stretches, expanding into the vastness. And yet again, he meticulous enough to focus his lens into the minute details of the Indian psyche or human psychology and mentality. His stories stretch from Bombay to Europe and Singapore, and also to the interiors of North Indian villages. A carefully woven plot, he does not leave even a tinge of query in the minds of the readers when we finish the 900 pages.
Chandra’s characters are lively and walk out of the pages and step into your life as you read the book. On one hand is his protagonist Sartaj Singh, one of the few Sikh officers in Maharashtra police force, on the other hand is the underworld don Ganesh Gaitonde, a person on whose single indication, hundreds can be killed, million bucks can exchange hands and even ministers can be placed or removed. The story gets a shape when Sartaj gets an anonymous tip-off about the hide-out of the famous gangster. As the story progress, Gaitonde narrates the story his life, his journey, and his conquer and defeats, his rise and fall. Then we come across the character of a highly spiritual guru and we are slowly surprised as we go on discovering new things about this philosophical yet controversial character. What we discover at last leaves us gaping at the story line and enforces us to marvel at the craftiness of the plot designed by the master storyteller.
In the end we reach at the conclusion that the hype which the book had created before its release was in no way, only a result of business management by Viking. The book is really an example of Indian English writing at its best and had successfully established Chandra as one of its many pillars.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s