Today I have for you my fellow bookworms, review of Sultan of Delhi, Ascension, Indian Fiction from the house of Hachette India, my first review for them (happy to be a part of the Blog Tour), they are home to my favorite author by the way (Aatish Taseer).
Read on for more on #SultanofDelhiAscension.
Title: Sultan of Delhi – Ascension
Author: Arnab Ray
Publisher: Hachette India
Format reviewed: Paperback
Time period: Post partition India – early years.
Location: Delhi, India.
Profession of main character(s): Political Power broker.
Sultan of Delhi chronicles the story of Arjun Bhatia – son of a penniless refugee from Lahore who has worked his way up from being an arms smuggler in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh to the most influential power-broker in Delhi.
But when the shadows of the past – of a friend he has lost forever and a woman he can never be with – finally catches up with him, Arjun finds himself fighting the biggest battle of his life. For at stake is not just his iron hold over the government, but something even greater – his family … and his soul.
Spanning five decades and two generations, Sultan of Delhi: Ascensionis an explosive saga of ambition, greed, love and passion.
Today’s review is part of the Blog Tour organised by Hachette India for Arnab Ray’s novel Sultan of Delhi – Ascension. Being a grand daughter of a refugee, I was eager to read this book and see the similarities from the partition stories I’ve heard via the oldies in the family. As far as similarities go the start gave a glimpse of it and that’s about it as the story is about what happens next.
Arjun Bhatia is the only surviving child of the privileged Bhatia family. Bhatia Sr. leaves Lahore in a hurry and flurry of emotions with Arjun, leaving behind a burning house with the rest of his family inside. Bhatia Sr. is never the same again while Arjun survives and even thrives in the refugee camp.
We see the rise of Arjun from a sickly pre teen to being a power broker during the 60s to 90s Delhi. His is a riches to rags and back to riches story via the criminal way. Morals and righteousness are out the cramped, Delhi bylanes, windows and survival is the only resident. Arjun believes power, money and influence is what he needs more than keeping the memories of past alive. While his father withers away during their initial days in India, Arjun does what he can to gain foothold in his new home. His fortune rises first through hard work and then via the criminal path he chooses before ending up as a power broker and king maker in Delhi’s political circles.
Along the way Arjun has a family, a marriage of convenience gives him a cash rich bank account an unmatched to his personality wife and 3 kids, a mistress and a bunch of frenemies. Arjun’s life comes a full circle, which in my opinion is not much better from when he came to India except with a whole lot of money and a family. Somewhere along the way to his rise, he looses being a normal family man and is disconnected from his wife and children. For a man who is always steps ahead of his peers, enemies he fails to groom his children for the business and it’s no surprise he didn’t see his younger son’s criminal tendencies. His brief adventure with his mistress was the only time he seemed to be alive and normal.
Arjun Bhatia’s character is a ruthless, flawed yet romanticised criminal we often see in Hindi cinema. Same goes for his story which well fits the 70-80s Hindi movies template.
For a moment if you keep the crime aside, Arjun Bhatia is a survivor. The son of a refugee with little in hand, making it big in India post partition. He quickly learns the ways of the world, takes risks, isn’t afraid of hard work and doing what it takes. His moral compass takes a back seat while he focuses on making a life for himself.
Arjun’s is one of the many stories that were a result of partition. It is a well written story and takes the reader back to the early years of post partition India. If you enjoy stories that resemble a cinematic experience you will devour this story in a sitting.
While I am not blown away by the story, I also don’t hate it, definitely a one time read, kinda like the movies most of the time. And since we don’t have many well written movies these days glad we have #SODA to fill in.
Buy it here: Amazon India
Arnab Ray is one of India’s most read bloggers, known online as Greatbong. A PhD in Computer Science from State University of New York at Stony Brook, he has also written three bestselling books – May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss, The Mine and Yatrik. He can be found on Twitter at @greatbong
Reviewed by Bharti