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Book Review: Mango People In Banana Republic by Vishak Shakti

Disillusionment with one’s career is a common pattern among millennials these days and Ravi Bhalerao is no exception. He is a business strategy consultant who is among those hundreds and thousands who are unsure about the future.

What sets him apart is that he decides to quit his job, ditch the urban life and shift to his ancestral village in Vidarbha, infamous for drought and farmer suicides. No this is not the plot of ‘Swades’ but a blurb of the book ‘Mango People In Banana Republic’ by Vishak Shakti.

This is also the story of Anand, a former physicist who has set on a spiritual quest through esoteric India. He seeks refuge in the Ashrams of various babas and gurus, Beleaguered by the shenanigans of the various cults, he questions the path to “liberation” that he was treading so far.

On the other hand, Ravi comes across India in her elemental form in Vidarbha. He finds a mission, encounters love and embarks on a path of redemption from his disillusionment.

As the name suggests, ‘Mango People In Banana Republic’ is a light-hearted take on the current situation of the country. As Ravi sets out on a search for personal identity, we are also taken on a ‘discovery of India’ ride by the author. With tongue-in-cheek writing, oodles of wit and humour, and a pacy narrative, the book easily wins hearts.

Being an enthusiast of Indian politics, and social activist of sorts myself, this book was relatable to a huge extent. Hailing from a small town, I have often felt disillusioned with the fast-paced city life, the corporate ‘snakes and ladders’ and also faced moments when I had no clue where my life was headed.

Gandhi Ji had truly said true India resides in the villages. And often I have realised this when I have visited rural Bengal (or even the small mufassil towns). Ravi’s quest for self-identity, juxtaposed against the societal and political ills that ail our great nation, and how he chooses to fight them, touches a chord indeed.

To sum up, ‘Mango People In Banana Republic’ is a delightful read on a hot summer afternoon, with a plateful of mangoes to munch on as you turn the pages. Looking forward to reading more of Vishak Shakti’s works.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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

 

DISCLAIMER: ALL IMAGES USED IN THIS POST HAVE THEIR RESPECTIVE COPYRIGHTS

 

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Book Review: The Tree Bears Witness by Sharath Komarraju

As a 90’s kid living in India, the famed Akbar-Birbal stories were part of my growing up years – firstly, thanks to the Amar Chitra Katha comics, and secondly, courtesy the animated series on Cartoon Network. Known for his sharp mind, analytical skills, and quirky wit, Birbal was one of Akbar’s ‘Navaratna’ (nine gems).

From mundane matters pertaining to state of affairs, to something as absurd as counting the number of crows in the kingdom – popular tales of Birbal encompassed it all. So, it was absolutely intriguing to land a book about ‘detective’ Birbal who is entrusted with solving a murder mystery. ‘The Tree Bears Witness’ by Sharath Komarraju shows us a new side to the popular historical figure.

Given the times we live in, where any reference to historical figures is met with a threat to life, or a bounty on the head, it is brave of the writer to pen a fictional tale of the murder of Sujjamal, brother of the newly-wedded Rajput queen of Emperor Akbar. Imagine an envoy of a foreign country dying under mysterious circumstances in India – Sujjamal’s murder has similar far-reaching political consequences, as his marriage with the Rajput princess was a political manoeuvre.

Given the gravity of the situation, Akbar turns to his trusted lieutenant to bring the perpetrator to justice using his famed grey matter. While Birbal sets on the task, he has a herculean challenge laid out before him. Palace politics plays out, as powerful people try to throw Birbal off-course in his task. An innocent scape-goat is jailed for convenience and rivalries play out in a way that makes Birbal’s work even more arduous.

The brisk pace of the story, with all the twists, makes this novel an enjoyable read. Birbal could very well be a modern-day CBI sleuth who is investigating the murder of a diplomat; the spirit of the story would remain intact. The delectable writing, with historical setting, set this book a class apart. The climax, where Birbal assembles the entire royal clan to reveal the murderer, reminded me of how Feluda always finished his cases.

Overall, ‘The Tree Bears Witness’ by Sharath Komarraju is an exciting murder mystery that adds a dash of history to a fictional tale of whodunit. If you read between the lines, the political subtext in the novel will surely impress you.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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

DISCLAIMER: All Images Used In This Book Have Their Respective Copyrights

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