By chance I came across a reference to a book titled The Sialkot Saga written by Ashwin Sanghi. Now I don’t remember what prompted me to log into my Amazon account and purchase the Kindle book. I want to read how Indian writers are writing these days and maybe that’s why I purchased the book.
I don’t mean to sound elitist or condescending, I have never read a single book of Chetan Bhagat. Not that I never tried. I purchased a couple of books. I tried reading a few pages but couldn’t go on. Maybe the choice was incorrect.
I completely read The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi in one go. The Sialkot Saga seems to be a thicker book (it’s difficult to tell on the Kindle reader) but I’ve completed 53% of it. For the past three hours I was sitting in the balcony (it’s way past midnight and a pleasant monsoon wind is blowing) reading the book, engrossed in the plot. I was chased inside by a rowdy gang of mosquitos.
So I was just wondering, why I am able to read Amish Tripathi and Ashwin Sanghi but not Chetan Bhagat? After all movies have been made out of his multiple books. His books sell more. He is read more. And people seem to like what he writes, or at least that’s what his fame tells.
But whenever I tried, I couldn’t go beyond a few pages. It was like, what the heck am I reading? Why am I doing this to myself? There is no soul in his writing. It’s like watching Katrina Kaif acting; no matter how drop-dead stunning she looks you can make out the terrain of acting is barren. It’s wrong comparison, at least for some time your visual senses are stimulated when you watch her.
It’s not that Ashwin Sanghi, in terms of using the language, is a Salman Rushdie or even an Amitava Ghosh; no, with every sentence and phrase you can make out that he is uncomfortable writing in English. But what comes through is his hard work, his passion, and his love for what he is writing about. He has a story to tell, and he is telling it as passionately as he can. The passion comes through so strongly that you readily overlook his childish tendency to show off his English writing skills by randomly using phrases just because he knows them.
So why is a writer like Ashwin Sanghi less known than Chaten Bhagat despite being a better writer? Marketing? Positioning? First-comer advantage? Connections? Or simply vicissitude?
On a positive note, I read that Ashwin Sanghi has sold more than a million books. I remember reading a few years ago that an Indian author became a best seller even if one of his books could sell 10,000 copies. One million books is a lot. Looking forward to completing The Sialkot Saga and writing its review.
This post was originally written for Writing Cave.