Sacred Games – Book Review

By Sunil Kumar

A post after a long time. So here goes. Managed to read Vikram Chandra‘s 900+ pages book; Sacred Games. Since it’s going to be on Netflix; this spiked interest and I managed to decipher why the commissioning producers would want this show on. Sleaze, sex, intrigue, mystery; ingredients for a riveting TV series if directed properly.

Chandra a typical member of an established literary tribe alternates apparently between Mumbai and Berkeley. Although sections of this book were fascinating and managed to sustain my interest; somewhere he tends to ramble on; make social commentary and build unnecessary diversions. The two main protagonists are Gaitonde and Sartaj Singh; and the rest is a mix of extreme violence; a lot of expletives and excessive sex.

Sacred Games (novel)

Visit Sacred Games (novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the rest let’s switch over to Gaitonde’s stream of consciousness.

Gaitonde: Sala tapori bhadwa writer sala. Bhaiya dimag leke mera insult karta hai. I’m supposed to be illiterate; but I speak very suave English; reflecting the writer’s mood perhaps.

The Punjabis in this book are also cliched stereotypes. A similar approach exists towards Gujaratis; Christians etc. Probably reflects his worldview and experiences. It’s not a stretch to imagine that all of us have met such people; but the peculiar spin of these writers never ceases to amaze me.

Chandra is obviously knowledgeable on science, relativity and spiritual jargon; and these were some parts of the book I liked. Mumbai’s gritty underside is overplayed; so it sometimes feel like an overblown “Vaastav“. Clearly; Chandra watches a lot of movies; so the “taporis” and the “bhais” act like movie critics half of the time. Suleiman Isa is based on the notorious Dawood; and the gangland violence an amalgam of real life and movie magic.

Vaastav: The Reality

Visit Vaastav: The Reality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jojo Mascarenhas also seems to be a crass mix of some people he’s met. Although; I doubt whether Gaitonde if he existed; would be suffering from a profound moral dilemma. That part stretches believability but yes it’s a novel.

My rating for the book: 6/10. Hope the TV screenplay’s fun.

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