Imagine a necklace with a hundred pearls. If these pearls are numbered from 1 to 100, it would be easier to identify them and arrange them in a particular sequence, right? If these pearls are scattered in an open room with little or furniture, it will be relatively easy to get the pearls and string them together. If you were however in a room with several furniture items, it will be difficult for you to search for the pearls in the nooks and crevices under the sofas, between the cushions etc. The challenge will get amplified with increase in the size of the room and number of items present in the room.
I know it was never going to be easy making an attempt to review Sudipto’s book, but what I intended to convey was that the book is extremely complex and hats off to Sudipto for delicately stringing together this beautiful string of pearls from 1 to 100 by undertaking years of painstaking research and taking us on trips across the globe which is akin to finding each pearl from under the bed or some such difficult corner of an overcrowded palatial house.
The book starts off impressively in Bangladesh and sets a very high expectation. I was forced to wonder if he will manage to sustain that level of excitement in the book. He almost does and that is where my respect for the author has gone up significantly! To Sudipto’s credit, he has weaved together a story with its multiple characters, linked several stories, several historical facts, subjects like astronomy, music, Rig Veda etc and anything more will be a spoiler for you.
I must admit that when I bought the book, I did so thinking that as an aspiring author myself, it is only fair to encourage a fellow IIT-ian. But I am happy I read this book because he surpassed my expectations by miles on several counts. I do not know how he managed to research so much and on topics that have nothing to do with Engineering. Ok, that is acceptable but linguistic palaeontology with discussions around cognates and lots of musical gyan thrown in was surely not what I would have predicted ever. I am yet to get over the hangover of The Ekkos Clan! The book has all ingredients of being made into a high octane thriller of a movie. Krotu Sen with all the women around him go in search of unravelling the mysteries behind the stories he has heard as a kid. Having been in Calcutta earlier, I could relate to all the Bengali terms but even if you don’t know the language, the book can be enjoyed thoroughly. The descriptions of places, emotions etc were enjoyable but one area of improvement is the dialogues. When Krotu and Afsar or Tista (well, Tits!) engage in conversations, the tautness in the flow gets diluted at several places. This is one area of improvement as per my analysis. Interestingly, Sudipto talks about his grandmother’s stories as an inspiration. The mention of some of my other KGP batch mates in the Acknowledgement section was also a pleasant surprise.
I am not sure how long it will take for him to come out with his next book, but if the quality is going to be similar, I am ready to wait for 4-5 more years! In the meantime, wondering if the rights will be bought by Karan Johar … of Krotu will be played by Ranbir, who will Afsar be? Will they actually show the khistis, censor the gaalis or the crudeness? … We’ll wait, will definitely be worth it!
Overall a score of 3.5 to 4 stars out of 5. Please go ahead and read this book: it is highly recommended!
Note: The Wikipedia page gives out several details and I have tried to keep that out of this post. Also, good to see Niyogi publish this.