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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Book Review- Maharaja In Denims- Khushwant Singh (Not that Khushwant Singh)

Title- Maharaja in Denims
Author- Khushwant Singh (Not that Khushwant Singh)
Publisher- Amaryllis
ISBN-10 9381506434
Edition- 1st
Book Type- Fiction
Number of Pages 184 Pages
Publication Year- 2014 February
Language- English
ISBN-13 9789381506431
Binding- Paperback


How would I rate the earlier Khushwant Singh? I would place him with greats like Manto and Rumi. How would I rate this Khushwant Singh? He knows how to hold a crowd's attention but is only average at telling the story. He can be placed in the same category as Chetan Bhagat. Make no mistake about it, this is not a literary masterpiece. In parts, the book doesn't even make much sense but, you still cannot put it down. The book starts with a love-making scene and the book seems to glorify promiscuity and silently endorses sexism. I would have called it liberal if the promiscuity was balanced but, while the male, Hari is shown to be aggressive and lustful gloriously, the female- Suzanne is completely devoted and admires the male chauvinism. It was slightly disturbing for me until I realized that the author is just presenting Maharaja Ranjit Singh with his flaws and not making any statements. The book does have an unapologetic Punjabi air about it which gets nauseating after a while.

I am not opposing the regional or religious pride of Punjabis. I think it is great that we have a group of people who are known for doing things wholeheartedly or not at all. I just think that it could have been given some variations. The stereotypes are too rigid and the book is laced with alcohol, sleaze, fast cars and pomp. 

The book also deviates from its main plot to cover more history like Anti Sikh riots and the partition riots. It seems like the author had strong views about some events in history and instead of writing a newspaper column, he wrote a fictional book on it to reach a wider audience. In the process, he didn't care much about the art of story-telling. Parts of the book seem hurried but just because the book has so many interesting premises, I was able to finish it in one sitting. Also the fact that the book is less than 200 pages long helped.

The parts about past life regression are slightly unbelievable. Not because they are unscientific but because of the abundance of cliches and predictability. The book stands tall on its content but fails when it comes to story-weaving. Also, the description of Hari- the teenager as a sleazeball and Suzanne as a devoted lover for no apparent reason- is slightly off-putting. I think the Maharaja deserved a better eulogy than this. It's a treat for the restless readers though- interesting bits from history in a capsule, plus sex.

The language is simple and lucid. Nothing will make you pause and ponder. Hence the reading speed. The cover art is intriguing. It is one of the good things about the book. There is an unnecessary suspense built around the fact whether Hari is really Maharaja Ranjit Singhji's reincarnation or not. You are almost confused why the author wanted you to be confused about Hari's genuineness. 

Two and a half stars **1/2 

3 comments:

  1. I like your style of reviewing, Dr. You do get a 'mouthful' when you sink your teeth into the juicy marrow.

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  2. Thank you doc. I take it that your specialty is Orthopaedics? :-P Just kidding, yes, I do try to be a bit critical because if it were just praises, the readers would have just looked at the book's blurb and accolades around it. :-)

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  3. Pathology's my specialty. Ur right, review should have both pros & cons highlighted.

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