Friday, October 19, 2012

The Krishna Key

Author: Ashwin Sanghi

History based thrillers in the recent past have always been about bringing out the unseen angle to disputable events in the pages of history through interesting characters. Dan Brown, who patronizes the formula with his now famous cinematic approach to writing, stands as a reference for both the readers and the writers of this genre. Half way through Krishna Key, where Ravi Mohan Saini the protagonist of the ‘anthropological thriller’, examines a crime scene oblivious to the fact that he is being framed for that crime & is awaiting imprisonment, the Robert Langdon reference which until then acted as a homage, turns full on scale into an adaptation of the latter. Like Robert Langdon, Ravi Saini too shares an interest in ancient history; which in turn their respective authors use to weave a cat & dog tale between the convoluted purists and pragmatic realists. Not just that, both professors have a sickening fetish for explaining controversial historical events, to the point where we the readers tend to feel like a spectator of a paparazzi show. Beyond the boundaries of  these clich├ęs, while Dan Brown is appreciated for hammering us with ingenious plot twists, his replicator Ashwin Sanghi confines himself with his inspire's limitations, ergo couldn't enthral the us with captivating events.

In the plot summary of the novel, besides dealing with the tryst of Ravi Saini, the book promises to talk about a serial killer who presumes the role of Lord Kalki. As eerily intriguing as it could be, Ashwin Sanghi lays a bigger labyrinth for the mystical character in the beginning of the novel, only to lose all steam as the plot thickens with more characters. It would have been tolerable to undermine a key character if it were to be compensated by far better ones, but unfortunately the trade-off only gives us obnoxious know-it-all caricatures whose only agenda is to move the stale plot forward.

The above mentioned glaringly dull characterizations apart, Krishna Key has a promising premise by it side; and with its in-depth hypothesis on hindu way of life and Indian history in a broader sense, the book does keeps its target audience hooked till almost the end. But a book doesn't become a good read just because of its allegiance to the history of its native readers. The compelling narration & the poetic flow of language used for it should always be the main reason for cherishing it. But for the Indian readers who are immersed in the romantic age of Bollywood novels, these things don't matter.

I was introduced to Ashwin Sanghi’s scheming world through Chanakya’s Chant, a modern day adaptation of Chanakya’s political shrewdness. While it had its moments of sheer brilliance, it wasn't able to warrant my complete attention. Nevertheless, in a space filled by romantic urban novels, it sure came as a breath of fresh air to many a readers like me. Channeling my thoughts that way, Ashwin’s latest offering ‘Krishna Key’ with its straightforward narrative, turned out to be a page turner in the true sense. No wonder, for someone who completed Chanakya’s Chant in a week, it took only one sitting in a single day to complete Krishna key for me; and that matters the most here.

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