The Sialkot Saga is the fourth book by Ashwin Sanghi on the Bharat series. I have read only Chanakya Chants and The Krishna Key. Both the earlier books had the past and the present narratives running simultaneously and had an interesting premise, but somehow both the books didn’t really work its magic on me.
This book is a grander and a better attempt by the author. The story starts from the partition and the infamous train that ran from Sialkot to Amritsar. It traces the rise and the rivalry of two ambitious guys – Arbaaz Sheikh and Arvind Bagadia. Their rise and growth is captured against the backdrop of India’s political and emotional journey from the 1950’s to 2010. Set for most parts in Calcutta and Bombay, the rivalry between the two protagonists results in a whirlwind of fast paced events which have various twists and turns.
The style of writing and sequencing of key events from the history is reminiscent of Kane and Abel by Jeffery Archer. This is not to insinuate that its a copy from that book. This is an original entertainer in its own right. Although it must be said that a couple of cons were lifted from Sidney Sheldon’s If Tomorrow Comes. However, instead of frowning at it I found myself being bemused by the placement of the same.
However, I did get a tad let down by the author’s attempt to over explain things. For instance, there’s a nice little line about God, Tea and the TOI being the Holy Trinity of the Bombay morning. But instead of leaving it at that, it unnecessarily explains that it means morning prayers, tea and a dose of the news. This tendency to over explain and dumb down things is a grouse I have with the Indian authors. I don’t know if it is the authors or editors who tend to consider their readers to be negligible in the head. Thankfully, in this book such instances are remarkably reduced.
There are a lot of theories about Vedic science and various philosophical thoughts of ancient rishis incorporated in the book. I liked the way this book attempts to link them into the modern narrative with a fairly plausible explanation. While some may scorn at the attempt, I do recommend an open mind to absorb it.
Overall, small blemishes aside, this is a nice fast paced entertainer which will leave you engrossed throughout the narrative.