It is the 18th century and despite the dominant Mughal rule, the Maratha Confederacy has established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the Indian Subcontinent. The fragile peace between the two powers is threatened when Balaji Vishvanath Bhat, Peshwa of the Confederacy, foils the plans of Nizam Ul Mulk of the Mughal Empire, and asserts the power of the Marathas. However, little does the Peshwa know that he has dealt the Nizam an unintended wound—one with roots in his mysterious past and one that he would seek to avenge till his last breath.
When the Peshwa surrenders his life to a terminal illness dark clouds gather over the Confederacy as it is threatened by a Mughal invasion as well as an internal rebellion.
All the while a passive spectator, the Peshwa’s son, Bajirao Bhat, now needs to rise beyond the grief of his father’s passing, his scant military and administrative experience, and his intense love for his wife and newborn son to rescue everything he holds dear. Will the young man be able to protect the Confederacy from internal strife and crush the armies of the Empire all while battling inner demons? Will he live up to his title of Peshwa?
I’ve always been a fan of historical fiction as they seldom fail to provide new perspectives to the erstwhile facts. After the success of the Hindi film Bajirao Mastani, Ram Sivasankaran’s novel The Peshwa is bound to invoke interest among history lovers. I haven’t watched the film, but I was aware of Peshwa Bajirao and the colourful life he led. A book on him seemed to be need of the hour and well in sync of keeping abreast with the topic.
Ram Sivasankaran has done quite a bit of research and plotting before embarking onto this journey with The Peshwa. The story begins with the lesser known Peshwa, Balaji Vishwanath Bhat, father of Bajirao. He had been rock solid against the Mughal empire and their tyranny against the Chhatrapati and the Maratha Confederacy. Sneaking a glimpse into Balaji Vishvanth’s life and his valour while camping outside the borders of Delhi to initiate the release of Queen Yesubai. This was Bajirao’s first tryst with negotiation and a pre-emptive to war. He was on the verge of evolving into a fine warrior, unlike the previous Peshwas, who were Brahmins and administrators. After the demise of his father, Bajirao had to accept the responsibility of the next Peshwa bestowed upon him by Chhatrapati Shahu.
The story is laced with conspiracies, ambitions, failed attempts, assassins, fine tuning of war and the inimitable courage of a young Peshwa, Bajirao Bhat. Reminiscing his beautiful wife Kashibai and toddler son amidst the barren expanses of war field, he sets a great example mingling among his soldiers, instead of sitting on a throne of the mighty Peshwa. Will he seize victory from the Mughals? Will he protect the Chhatrapati’s throne and his family?
You must read the book to know more. I loved the way the story progresses, carefully assembled and etched with details. The writing is easy and not too flamboyant, though I’d have loved to have it a little more flowery. It’s a good piece of fiction based on the illustrious Peshwa, as a warrior, husband, father, son and lover. In my opinion, it’s a better account of Bajirao’s life rather than focusing only on his romance with Kashi and then Mastani, as in the film.
Recommended for every reader, even if you don’t love history, give this one a try.
My Rating: 4/5
About the author:
Ram Sivasankaran was born in Madras, India, but has spent most of his life abroad, largely in the Middle East and the United Stated of America. He was brought up on stories from Hindu legend and the great epics and classics of both India and the West. In addition to being a passionate student of history in school, Ram has built a keen interest in stories of valour, heroism, chivalry, beauty, and romance.
A daydreamer of sorts, Ram believes deeply in the power of imagination—the mind being the canvas on which even the seemingly talentless can create new universes, resurrect eras long gone, bring the gods to life and even revive heroes and damsels of yore. Ram makes his debut with a historical novel on one of the greatest and yet, to an extent, less known figure from Indian history—Bajirao Bhat, Peshwa of the Maratha Confederacy, mighty warrior, hopeless romantic and one of the most dazzling examples of wartime courage, military readership and battle strategy.
Language: English, Genre: Fiction/Historical
Author(s): Ram Sivasankaran
Publisher: Westland, Year Published: January 2016
Binding: Paperback, Edition: First, Pages: 356
ISBN-13: 978-938572421 , ISBN-10: 9385724215
Reviewed for: Writersmelon
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