No of pages: 338
Author: Ram Sivasankaran
Post watching Bajirao Mastani I was thoroughly intrigued to know about Peshwa more. While the movie portrayed Bajirao Bhat as one of the bravest warriors but the inclination of the movie was more on the romantic side. This book though it is a historical fiction enables one to understand Maratha confederacy better right from beginning.
About the book:
The book starts with an interesting prologue which lays down the base of the story. Here we see the vanquish of the Maratha confederacy in the hands of the Mughal empire. Also, Chhatrapathi Sambhaji along with his wife Yesubai are taken as prisoners of war post the defeat. The story then marches forward to 1718 and we see that Maratha confederacy is under Chhatrapati Shahu and the present Peshwa is Balaji Vishvanath Bhat. There is a considerable weakening of the Mughal empire under its present ruler and the Syed brothers largely control the reign of the Mughal empire.
Bajirao is the son of Balaji Vishvanath Bhat and we see that he escorts along with him in many wars and negotiations. The Marathas are marching towards Delhi to negotiate for the release of Queen mother Yesubai who is still a royal hostage. During this travel we see that Balaji Vishvanath Bhat trains his son Bajirao in negotiation skills, understanding humans and also tests his wit and wisdom. We understand that the present Peshwa wishes to place his son Bajirao as the next Peshwa post his death.
During their, travel to the Mughal empire, Balaji Vishvanath Bhat unveils and defeats the plan of Nizam Ul Mulk. Nizam Ul Mulk is very loyal to the Mughal and wishes to see the empire reinstated in its past glory. The ridicule which this defeat of plans brings to the Nizam is borne by him with a spirit of vengeance. Post this we see that Balaji Vishvanath Bhat dies due to illness and we see the rise of a division within the Maratha confederacy. A huge responsibility befalls young Bajirao who though having very less experience in administration or warfare must now rise to the occasion in the most difficult of times.
The author has played around with words well and has been able to create a powerful visual imagery. The description , especially of the battles, is brilliant such that one feels as if we are witnessing it first hand.Where the author has triumphed is in world building. Though the novel makes for a fast paced reading yet it gives a sense of the entire picture and has been structured well.
This novel is a powerful debut by Ram Sivasankaran. He has very well portrayed the Maratha empire and the Peshwa while taking creative liberties. This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the Peshwa better or has an interest in historical fiction. Another thing I loved about this novel is its cover design and the illustrations.