“There is a certain pleasure we take in thinking about how bad it gets, and then in imagining how it will inevitably get worse. And still we survive, the city stumbles on. Maybe one day it’ll all just fall apart, and there was a certain gratification in that thought too. Let the maderchod blow. ” ~Vikram chandra, Sacred Games
‘Cynicism’, I have always had a soft spot for it, not out of compassion mind you, but a certain kind of camaraderie. I am one of those crazy guys who smiles when he hears ‘The Joker’ say “Everything Burns!!” This in no way suggests that I am a true cynic, that! I believe is a difficult thing to achieve, to be truly distrustful and disdainful of this world is not quite possible, Hope, in one way or the other, whether you like it or not worms its way into you, and perhaps, perhaps that’s a good thing.
Goodreads Blurb :- Sacred Games is an epic novel of friendships and betrayals, of violence and love set against the backdrop of a teaming 21st century Mumbai. Sartaj, the only Sikh inspector in the whole of Mumbai, is used to being identified by his turban, beard and the sharp cut of his trousers. But ‘the silky Sikh’ is now past forty, his marriage is over and his career prospects are on the slide. When Sartaj gets an anonymous tip off as to the secret hideout of the legendary boss of the G-company, he’s determined that he’ll be the one to collect the prize…
I am surprised at how long it takes for some books to find me, or wait, for me to find some of them. When it’s so clear at how perfectly they conform to what I need or what I like. ‘Sacred Games’ is one of those truly all-rounder books that has everything a bibliophile would appreciate. Notably
1.) Length, 1057 Pages (Kindle Edition) in any other book such heftiness would be discouraging, even in SG it was borderline but ultimately on the right side of the border. With all its pages and all its story-lines SG is one such book where even after 450 pages, you sigh with relief, content with the knowledge that there is still more than 50% of it left. For any 1000+ page book, this is a great achievement. The writing was not extraordinary, rather easy and simple, for your everyday Joe really, but that is exactly what the book needed, that simplicity worked wonders for it in my opinion.
2.)Characters, the one thing I truly admire about Sacred Games, hats off to Vikram Chandra and his penchant for character building, every character in this book would make you fall for it, not because they are all charming or something, but because they are all so well sketched, even the minor ones, with all his little digressions and side line small stories, Mr. Chandra holds you with their struggles, you are right there with ‘Inspector Sartaj’ sitting on his dining table having his 3 pegs after dinner, you are right there with ‘Don’ Ganesh Gaitonde, sitting on his house’s water tank contemplating his next move in the deadly game. With Sartaj’s mother in ‘Lahore’ during partition, with ‘Constable Katekar’ in his ‘kholi’ with his family or with ‘K.D Yadav’ in his hospital bed reminiscing old losses and glories. This delving into the lives of these characters gives them a soul, however conflicted or pure or dark it may be, you Care, and that I think is one of the strongest thing working for the book.
3.) The Story line, A mystery, A thriller, A crime flick and A slow burn all at the same time, all the while giving you that delicious taste of a complicated Mumbai setting. Mafia, Movies. Corruption, the Law, Politics, A national security threat and the day to day troubles of the common man, now how many books can do justice to all these dimensions and not tilt you in favor of one more than the other. Though there was a bit of a drag at the end where the gullibility of someone as shrewd as the character of Ganesh Gaitonde surprised me to no end but well we are all pardoned a few idiosyncrasies, aren’t we?
4.)The real world parallels, the inspiration for some of the story lines was rooted in the Mumbai Mafia history, ‘Ganesh Gaitonde’ is inspired from ‘Arun Gawli’, ‘Sulieman Isa’ from ‘Dawood Ibrahim’, and the genuine Mumbai setting with its dance bars and slums and bitter sweet but all too real police system, its all well founded and researched, despite being kind of an epic fiction its real in its telling. This makes it all too close and personal with is another thumbs up.
5.)Profanity, well, ahmm….this might be subjective and appealing to me (don’t roll your eyes), the constant use of Indian abusive slangs just makes the story that much more personal. There’s no over the top cleaning act, say what you will, rawness has an appeal of its own. The Glossary would take some of your confusion away if you care to consult it.
All in all, its one hell of a ride, with all its twists and turns, slow and fast paces, dips and highs, one must read for all the Indophiles, Mumbai lovers or mystery, crime & thrill seekers, look no further my friends pick this up, you would be set for at-least a month (including its reading and the hangover that will most definitely follow, this is no light weight drink after all!).