Today, we all read about how to write a thriller. Requirements are as follows:
A plot of a best-selling book by a Videsi (International) best selling author
A touch of mythology.
Some fine knowledge of history.
A few desi (Indian) characters, a few firang (out of India) characters.
A romantic angle to occasionally lead the readers off the plot at irregular intervals.
Sprinkle some additional elements by going through CNN, BBC and other international news agencies. Check the latest news, gossips going on and mix it in the plot. And there you go.. tadaaaa… Your very own best selling mythological thriller.
Alright. Enough of sarcasm. Coming back to the book “The Mahabharat Secret”, let me tell you what lured me to buy and read this book. Mahabharat has been one of my favourite topics to read. Every time I have read something about Mahabharat, I have come across new information that I was unaware of. And to an extent, this book brings light to new information (unsure about the credibility of the story).
Plot: The book starts with the premises of an era, 244BC, when King Asoka the Great ruled over his kingdom. Struck by remorse after waging the bloody war of Kalinga, he chooses to find solace in Buddhism. He and his courtier Surasen, come across “a secret” that dates back to the time of Mahabharat. It is upon Asoka to hide this threatening secret from the future generations, as it could be misused. For this mission, he creates a secret body of brotherhood called Nine Unknown Men who have to ensure that the secret remains buried and hidden from the world. He goes to lengths to ensure that no hint is left behind regarding “the secret”, by burning the copies of Mahabharat that exist in his kingdom and elsewhere, omitting any references related to “the secret”.
Cut to 500 AD, when one of the members of Nine (the secret gets carried forward to another person at the death of any previous member of Nine) runs away from Rajvirgarh to Bamiyan, Afghanistan in order to save the piece of information related to “the secret”.
Cut to the year 2001, when the Taliban destroys the Buddha statues of Bamiyan that are about 1500 years old, revealing two secret caves behind those statues.
Cut to the present day, when somewhere in Jaungarh Fort, a nuclear scientist called Vikram Singh is writing 5 emails to his NRI nephew Vijay Singh that give hints about some key regarding “the secret”. Ultimately, Vikram gets killed by Farooq Siddiqui, his Pakistani counterpart (also the terrorist working for LeT) who is on the trail of “the secret”. Vijay gets the news of his uncle’s demise and flies to India to perform final rites. Somewhere in New York, USA, an international terrorist by the name of Terence Murphy gets a call from one of his handlers regarding an assignment in India. Vijay, on the other hand, gets a helping hand from his best friend Colin, his love interest Radha, Dr. Shukla (Radha’s father) to decode the puzzles. Bheem Singh, the Maharaja of Rajvirgarh and Greg White play an important role in this mythological-historical-whatever thriller with occasional great work by IB officer Imran Gidwai. The climax has “the secret” getting revealed, the bad guys gunned down and Vijay becoming the member of Nine brotherhood.
My Take: The plot seems to be “The Da Vinci Code” ripoff. The history, chemistry, physics detailing is a huge let down as it may not appeal the mass readers. Inserting a romantic angle in this plot seems unnecessary. Some conversations are repetitive. The camaraderie between Colin and Vijay looks exaggerated. The plot could have been more racy, fast-paced and crispier had some of the angles not inserted. To sum it up, if you are a fan of mythological thrillers then this isn’t one of the books that keep you gripped!