He is a different person from NDTV’s Vikram Chandra as I figured out after seeing this book. But his family and he himself had several Bollywood and media connections through their work. Sacred Games for me was one of the contemporary Indian crime thriller that really excited me. There are not too many books from India that can boast of such a huge canvas for a story and still keep it gripping and thrilling enough till the end.
The book narrates the story of police inspector Sartaj Singh and underworld mafia and through them the writer has brought in a picture of contemporary India, its politics, working of police and intelligence agencies, connections between police, Bollywood and underworld, religious terrorism, nuclear threats and how this all affects day-to-day life of common people. The book is also about dreams of common people who may get into underworld or police or Bollywood and how they fight for their aspirations.
It is one of those books where police is shown as corrupt but intelligent, they take bribes from dance bars but also solve murder cases, they are ready to dance to the tunes of their bosses and underworld but when it comes to security of their city and country they know how to draw the line, they take care of the families of martyrs, they fall in love and they also make mistakes. In essence, they are humans and just like other common people.
Another important aspect of the book is language used. The colloquial abuses are used throughout the book making it more life-like. The author has not tried to sugarcoat the story and has shown it as is. But this is a large book and you need to have a bit of patience to be able to go till end and since the narrative keeps on going back and forth in story, you may tend to get confused at times.
If there is one news anchor whom I have liked more than Prannoy Roy on NDTV then it is Vikram Chandra. He has always ventured into new areas, started new concepts and programs and is a true leader in the world of TV news. When I came across this book “The Srinagar Conspiracy” written by him, I was really intrigued. The topic was to my liking and I knew the author as a great TV anchor. But I had no idea how good an author he will turn out to be. I was in for a big surprise. The book is a real fast paced thriller with events taken from real contemporary history of India and you tend to forget that it is a fiction.
The story is of two friends, one muslim and another hindu who grow up in Srinagar as neighbors with the friendship extending across generations between their families and then what happened to them as a result of terrorism. The hindu goes on to join Indian Army and the muslim friend joins a terrorist group. The story revolves around their life from childhood and how Kashmir and Srinagar and the friendships changed around them. On one hand the story talks about major political and terrorist events in Kashmir and on the other hand it is a very poignant story of friends and their life and love. In the end it is the common people who suffer the most.
The story is told from a viewpoint of a journalist who has a great resemblance to Author himself and at times you feel how much of his own experiences Vikram has used while writing this book. I would not be surprised at all, if some day I get to know that whatever is written in the book actually happened to him. Most of the time he has not shown any bias towards any political party or views or people but I could not help smiling when he praised NDTV in a passing reference.
I could not put down the book after I started reading it. I really wonder why he has not written more of books. I guess he is too busy entertaining his viewers through his TV programs.