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July 13, 2014

Book Review - 167 : The Thugs and a Courtesan

Publisher : Srishti Publishers and Distributors
Author : Mukta Singh Zocchi

The Thugs and a Courtesan is on the life of a thug named Firangia and his extramarital affair with a Maratha princess named Chanda Bai. Zeroing on a folkfare type narrative, the story is woven with a historical background that of the Maratha prime minister, Balaji Baji Rao II’s exile imposed by the British. In Chanda Bai, one can see the semblance of a patriotic warrior, who on the face of a foreign invasion attempts to save her motherland. 

With extra emphasis on fanatics, the scope and ambition of the plot stands out in today's time. Mukta raises pertinent questions about the haves and have nots about killing innocent people or polygamy. These are genuine questions pertinent even in today's time, making the story more invested to readers at multiple levels. Bouncing off a beautiful cover, the pace of the narrative is brisk. The travel portions are captured decently with an eye for detail.

But the material is dense and it may take some time getting used to the characters and their obtuse tone. The dialogues are clumsily written and the flow between conversations lack a smooth touch. Multiple sub plots stand out like sore thumbs since they are not properly woven into the narrative touch and act as speeding bumps. 

I am going with 2/5 for Mukta Singh Zocchi's 'The Thugs and a Courtesan'. There are enough clues to judge that there is merit in the writing style but it requires much more compact storytelling and some smooth hand in dialogue writing.

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