18 February 2012

Dancing with Maharaja – Sundar

pilanipictures.blogspot.com is one of the many feeds in my Google Reader account and a recent post made me decide in less than 5 minutes to order this book on Flipkart. (An aside on Flipkart: I discovered the brilliance of it after hunting for ‘An Unquiet Mind’ for almost a year and getting it in less than 2 days after ordering over here. I love! for books at least…). I had another reason to buy this particular book as the author is my senior from SIBM and someone I have really looked up to in my brief acquaintance. More about him in the front cover of the book, so that I can get to the book itself now.
D w M _ 2012 Its the story of an unlikely IAS aspirant (or is he?) who makes a deal with his father to attempt the civil services examination in exchange for a promise that irrespective of the outcome, he will become heir to the family business he so loves (or does he?).
The protagonist Satish, is the son of Rajaraman, a wine shop owner in Madurai (not Prabha wines, if you know what I mean ;-)). We get to know Satish as the spoilt and irresponsible brat whose only worthwhile dream is to inherit his father’s liquor business ‘Maharaja Wines’. So till such time his dream comes true, he spends all his time in those activities that define ‘aimless and useless youth’ in our country. The deal with his father, however, changes his life in ways that even the father could not have envisaged and the book takes us through his journey into IAS coaching classes, life in Delhi amidst a myriad of characters in the world of wannabe IAS / IPS officers, a life-changing journey and the inevitable outcome. The story has a Chetan Bhagat-ish twist to it (I said that about Dork too, didn’t I?)and I have to disagree with one of the Flipkart reviews which says it does not sound like a miracle or a movie. That being said, miracles (and movies) do make our world interesting, don’t they?
The happenings in India and the rest of the world around the time the story is set, make for an interesting background and weave through the story in subtle ways. What is not so subtle is the scene setting when the story moves to a new place (Old Rajinder Nagar or someone’s room for example), by describing too many background characters / objects / activities. It is akin to a movie scene where instead of leaving it to the audience to absorb the background, the camera decides to painstakingly pause at each object / activity till everyone has noticed it. May be that’s the only way to do it in a book – I am not sure – but it kind of obstructs the flow of reading, at least for me. Thankfully, that happened only a couple of times in the book and it sure didn’t stop me from finishing it in one go.
Since you probably know my grudge against Indian style English and obviously the story of an Indian boy is bound to be written in that language, I am not complaining. Interestingly, for a brief while I was reminded of Anbe Sivam, may be because of the similarity to Madhavan’s journey through a disaster which changes his perspective in life. But while the movie combined inspiration with humour and leaned heavily on Kamal Hassan’s character to guide the thought process, this book is more a saga of sober self-discovery. Coincidentally, one of the Flipkart reviews suggests that the book has the potential of being made into a movie! I was rather hoping for a sequel you know, especially since the author has first hand experience of civil services training as well. But I guess that’s not what he had in mind, considering he has shown us a peek into ‘a few years later’…
At the end of 2 hours (yes, its a quick read!) I was vaguely craving to study all sorts of subjects like Indian polity, geography and psychology. Its possibly the nerd in me, but its more likely the book itself, showing endless hours of study and the pressures of one of the toughest exams in a completely different light – one that makes it special and endearing!


  1. Thanks a lot for your time! Just now happened to notice the review.

    Getting to know the book better...
    Getting to know abt writing better...


  2. hey! btw.. i am yet to know who you are.. do write to me when ok ;)
    thanks alot!

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  4. Hi, thanks for liking our blog and showing interest in getting your book reviewed here. will mail you on this soon!