Saturday, 5 November 2016

The Peshwa (by Ram Sivasankaran)

When history is killed in printed letters from education board prescribed textbooks, it easily translates into simple quantum of scores upon annual marksheets. Good kings and bad kings, inheritances and battles, dates and events, problems causes and solutions. Lucky few chapters find resonance with stories told at home, like those of the freedom fighters, or those which stay for matters of future wisdom, the Indus Valley Civilization or the Joan of arc. For a thorough bong with adequate communal history to learn from and talk about, our exposure to kingdoms stayed sadly restricted to the famous Mughal lineage for its sheer magnificence, and to young king Sirajudullah on account of humane sympathy. The Maratha kingdom and its precise politics, sadly, never made a cut at a personal level until last year it jazzed up the silver screen. A compelling revelation, that they too fell in love and suffered, fought battles also of internal nature, sacrificed. And before the effect entirely faded, suddenly came by a chance for a commissioned book review, The Peshwa by Ram Sivasankaran.

What i loved about the book is its precise, crispy adherence to facts, figures, incidents. It has been convincing and at once loyal at its purpose. It presents the kingly strengths beside, in coexistence, with the humanly weaknesses of the Maratha confederacy. It provokes imagination but not without the due weight of authenticity, a dash of sincerity that is not easy to preserve when you set out to paint a picture as magnanimous as one of Peshwa Bajirao himself. Save for the loose ends of writing dialogues at times, the characters - though mostly out of scale on everyday grandeur - have been narrated in a very plausible, matter of fact style.

As the debutant book of a first time author, the attempt is indeed impressive. The pace and structural tightness is appreciable. The style is writing is impressive, it takes the reader along as it goes. More than anything, this book attempts to combine facts with fiction to bring on the table what we have so far considered bare requirements of mandatory reads from school syllabus. It does a service to the human face of history in its own, small, humble way. Overall it is a lovely read.