Shantaram

28Aug06

It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow through the screaming in my mind that even in shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free:free to hate the men who were torturing me or free to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much I know. But in the flinch and bite of chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of posibility. And the choice you make between hating and forgiving can become the story of your life.

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Any book that begins like that can’t go wrong can it? And it doesn’t , for most part.

Shanataram is supposedly an autobiographical novel by Gregory Roberts, an Australian fugitive who lands in aamchi Mumbai and begins life anew. It’s perhaps one of the longest (930 odd pages) and most inspiring books I’ve ever read. But I did find it hard to digest many things in the book simply because it seemed a little too incredible and hence I doubt it works as an autobiography, but as a novel, I’m sure it will blow most people away.

The story follows the adventures of Shantaram/Gregory Roberts/Lindsay/Linbaba (he’s known by a lotta names you see) once he comes to Bombay. He falls in love with a woman named Karla (who happens to be my dream mate), starts a free clinic in a slum, does work for the mafia, gets involved in a murder, earns the hatred of a certain Madame Zhou who runs a huge prostitution racket, learns about life from an underworld don, does bit parts in Bollywood flicks and then fights the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan! Now you know why the book is so huge!!!

The writing is simply superb. His observations on Indians and the rich cultural heritage is amzing, more so as it comes from a foreigner. He goes on to say that India is truly the land where the heart is king! The book has also inspired me to visit Bombay soon (heard it’s only 12 hours from Hyderabad!).

Incidentally, Johnny Depp has bought rights to the book and a movie is in pre production but a direcor hasn’t been finalised.

On the whole, the book merits a 7.5/10 only because it gets unnecessarily mushy at times and he raves on pointlessely about love!

My favourite line among numerous others: Every human heartbeat is a universe of possibilities.

Another line that pretty much described me was Interested in everything but committed to nothing. 🙂

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4 Responses to “Shantaram”

  1. 1 Ms.Imperfect

    Whoa…i should be like reading that book right now…next in line then…tho i already have “The Devil Wears Prada” and “The Alchemy of Desire” lined up…ahh…i can make a few exceptions for a book that starts like that…profound, really profound!!

  2. Yea u bet! the starting blew me away! it ends quite well too…a bit filmi though!


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