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Book Review: Prithviraj Chauhan by Anuja Chandramouli

Prithviraj Chauhan was destiny’s chosen one, singled out for glory and greatness. During the course of an extraordinary life, he transcended the limits imposed on mortals and achieved Godlike luster. The conquering hero dreamed of a united land where peace prevailed over war and love over hate.

Princess Samyukta loved him from afar, and when Prithviraj Chauhan claimed her for his own, defying the wrath of an implacable foe, their happiness was complete. Victorious in love and war, Prithviraj Chauhan was soon to discover that success came with a terrible price – trouble, treachery and tragedy. What happened next? Read the tale of the legendary warrior who lives on in the hearts of those who remember his unmatched valor and timeless heroism. 

Having grown up reading Amar Chitra Katha comics, Prithviraj Chauhan was a name to reckon with since early childhood. The valiant king who was also a passionate lover, has been the hero of many legends. Thanks to the popular television series a decade ago, the tales around the mighty warrior also kept growing.

Anuja Chandramouli’s book explores the hitherto unknown facets of his character. His childhood, the political power play, the foreign invasion, and even his love story with Princess Samyukta, are detailed throughout the pages, however, with an intelligent retelling. Apart from the main characters in the story, several behind-the-scenes players (like Kanchanadevi and Karpuradevi) emerge in the narrative, who drive the tale forward.

The transformation of Prithviraj’s character from a innocent prince into a ruthless warrior and benevolent ruler was a treat to read. The lucid writing, and the natural free-flowing text accentuates the twists in the plot, so much so that you keep turning pages, eager to know what happens next (although, the ultimate fate of Prithviraj is known to us all).

The success of a historical fiction lies in the balancing act while fictionalising characters we have encountered in history books. A dash of thrill here and a touch of drama there makes for a the recipe of a captivating read. Anuja Chandramouli’s ‘Prithviraj Chauhan’ achieves that good mix.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

P.S. The review copy of the book was provided by the author


Book Review: Rani Padmavati by Anuja Chandramouli

Rani Padmavati. The name itself is an enigma, like the Rajput queen who inspired generations of litterateur that dedicated pages in writing odes to her beauty. Even six months ago if one were to ask me what came to my mind when I hear that name, I would say Abanindranath Tagore’s Rajkahini. The fictional account of the tales of Rajputana  was a companion in our growing up years, and has shaped our worldview of the Rajputs.

Thanks to the charade in the name of protests last year, before the theatrical release of a film on Padmavati, and the drama that ensued, the Rajput queen has now become a household name in India. Whether or not people have read about her, they have an opinion on how she should be depicted in films and books. In times like these, Anuja Chandramouli’s book is a reprieve from the constant moral policing and sanctimonious preaching that history has now become.

Like always, Anuja Chandramouli gives us an insight into the characters, that were hitherto unexplored. They are not cast in black and white. The balancing act by the author, desisting from glorifying Rajputs (or vilifying Khilji) deserves special mention. The task of retelling a story that has been told many times enough in the past, comes with inherent risk of failing to stand out of the others. A fresh perspective adds a charm to a narrative that no amount of marketing blitzkrieg can achieve.

The free-flowing narrative, crisp writing, and emphatic delivery ensure that the book is unputdownable. The pages keep turning themselves, until the last word of the novel is processed in our brain. Chandramouli’s book carves its niche in this herd of stories, novels, poems and plays dedicated to the ‘Burning Queen of Chittor’.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

P.S. The review copy of the book was provided by the author


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