“Ashwin Sanghvi” in his second novel “Chankya’s Chant” has offered his reader two fictional accounts of king-making, which are set in eras, separated by nearly two thousand five hundred years. A common thread of Machiavellian thinking (ends justify the means) runs through the juxtaposed stories in which the protagonist of the stories (Chankya in the older one and Pandit Gangasagar in the modern story) pull off wicked strategies to install their protégés in the corridor of power.
The protagonists are portrayed as very determined, omniscient & omnipotent. The events in the stories always sway in the favor of the protagonist – which as per me is the downside of the story. The machinations of the two king-makers finally fructify with Chandragupta being coroneted as king of old Bharat while Chandini ends up taking oath as Prime Minister of India. The plots give the reader a peep into corruptive and divisive politics of India, which is akin to the greed and venality of ancient Bharat. Some of the political turn of events presented in the story seems to inspired by past and current political events & environment of India. A politically literate Indian reader can easily relate these events of the story with the real events of today’s politics.
Ashwin has deftly combined his ability of story telling with his passion for history and mythology. The work feels to be well researched. The turn of events in the two plots is broadly similar and hence the reader might feel the story in the modern day to be slightly less intriguing than the older story. The author has peppered the book with quotes borrowed from television series Yes Minister & Yes Prime Minster and from famous personalities like Oscar Wilde, Benjamin Franklin, Napolean Bonaparte etc, which made reading more interesting for me.
The author has deviated from the common storyline of the neo-literature of India (campus stories, tragedy stories about love, urban life stories and office politics stories) by foraying into writing a historical fictional and will give the audience of the neo-Indian Literature genre a much needed change. The language of the book is easily comprehendible and the plots will keep the reader riveted for majority of the time and is a light read.
One must not read the book for educative purpose but for entertainment. For the confluence of mythology, history and fictional story-telling in his work, I award Sanghvi a 3.5 out of 5 rating for “Chankya’s Chant”. You can read the sample chapter of the book here.
P.S: By publishing the book, Westland publishers seem to have hit the nail on the head this time as well – “Chankya’s Chant” has sold more than 50000 copies within 7 months of its launch. Westland publishers have published many recent best sellers like “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish by Rashmi Bansal”, “Don’t Loose Your Mind, Loose Your Weight –Rujuta Diwekar”.