Before starting my review for the book, I want to thank Ashwin Sanghi for sending an autographed copy of the book. After reading Chanakya’s Chat, the author has been my most favorite one and I was highly excited to read The Sialkot Saga since the day it was announced and the pre-order started. It feels great to own two copies of the book though!
To talk about the book, I will start with the cover picture itself. I can’t stop myself from appreciating the cover; it is probably the best cover Ashwin Sanghi’s book has received. Thanks to the photographer Somanth Kumar & designer Haitenlo Semy it. The story, which mainly concentrates on two characters named Arbaaz Shaikh & Arvind Bagadia, the cover pic definitely does justice with it.
The book with 589 pages is something you’ll not like to put down, purely a page-turner. As the story starts with 1947 India-Pakistan partition and the violence that resulted in killing of thousands of people and displacement of millions. Two boys, who succeeded to stay alive in the train that departed from Sialkot Junction and witnessed killing of number of people, were found by Constable Sukhbir Singh. At the same time, author takes us to Ashoka’s Pataliputra where the Chakravartin Samrat is busy in a discussion regarding a research and his worry about how the knowledge, which is gained after the research, can be preserved so that it’ll go into wrong hands.
The story of the two boys begins with Shaikh family going to listen PM Nehru addressing with Arbaaz. At the same time, the second protagonist, Arvind, who meets Mahashiva Baba with Bagadia family! Arbaaz’s father, Ayub Shaikh works as dockworker in Mumbai whereas Arvind’s father, Brijmohanlal Bagadia, is a businessman running a small business operation in Kolkata. The action-packed journey starts with boys, Arvind and Arbaaz, trying to earn money and get strong position in society so that no one will look down at their families.
Arvind is a financial genius and knows how to make quick money without buying and selling any goods or services. The only goal of his life is earn money, by hook or by crook, usually by crook. Arbaaz gets involved in underworld at very young age with aim to be the most powerful person of Mumbai, powerful with both money and muscles. While Arvind finds his partner in Jaydeep, Arbaaz finds Murali. The story of how they keep moving forward in whatever they do will not allow a reader to keep the book down willingly.
Arvind and Arbaaz, unknown from each other and neither willing to know the other one, passes through each other’s way time and again. Both trying to score over each other, both snatching money from each other by playing tricks, both trying to knock down his rival. The story of the battle of one brilliant financial mind and one newly emerged underworld boss travels through share market, politics, laws, courts, Bollywood and one laboratory which will be the turning point. The story of love, revenge, deception, betrayal, fraud and the ambition to win the world makes every bit of the book more and more readable.
Ashwin has very cleverly used almost all big incidents like partition, murder of Indira Gandhi & Rajiv Gandhi, 1984 & 2002 riots, 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, Babri demolition, 1991 economic reforms, and 26/11 Mumbai terror attack to make the story more alive. The author has included personalities like Former PM Narasimha Rao, Rajiv Gandhi, Vajpayee and Former Guj CM Narendra Modi. These all makes you think if this is really fiction or true story. That’s what makes the book awesome, where even the fiction seems like reality.
Along which the story of Arvind and Arbaaz, the book takes the reader in the era of many ancient kings like Ashoka, Samudragupta, Harsha, Nagabhata II, Krishnadevaraya, etc. All the kings had very big heart to shower gold over temples and to donate very generously on religious occasions. Even if initially one cannot connect the ancient kings with the main story, it falls in the right place when the book is about to end.
As a reader who was expecting Chanakya’s Chat magic, this is not a disappointment at all. This book is more about money whereas Chanakya’s Chat was about power and politics. Unlike the earlier one, this book mostly narrates the story of present. Chanakya’s Chat had two parallel storylines, one of Chanakya and other of Gangasagar Mishra whereas The Sialkot Saga is book with two parallel stories of Arbaaz Shaikh and Arvind Bagadia. From gold to sanjivani to nectar and immortality, this is definitely an unputdownable book.
I will this book 5 out of 5 stars. And with that, wait for new Ashwin Sanghi book starts…