Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra

I had no idea of this book’s existence till the Netflix announced its first Indian Original TV Series “Sacred Games”.220px-Sacred_Games_(novel)_cover

Sacred Games combines the ambition of a 20th-century social novel with a cops-and-gangster detective thriller. Sacred Games delves into many emotionally charged worlds of contemporary India, in particular the spidery links between organized crime, local politics and Indian espionage that lie below the sparkling surfaces of its economic renaissance. Money and corruption form the golden thread. In interweaving narratives and voices, Sacred Games takes on even larger themes, from the wrenching violence of the 1947 partition of India to the spectre of nuclear terrorism.

Sacred Games runs mostly on two parallel tracks, one winding through the criminal underground of Mumbai (then Bombay) in the 80s and 90s and the other through a tense modern-day hunt for the explanation behind a notorious dead gangster’s bizarre final words. The only Sikh police inspector in the city is seemingly invited to pursue Mumbai’s most legendary crime lord, Ganesh Gaitonde. Gaitonde reveals a harrowing timeline and a few hints of the identity of his collaborators before taking his own life. From there, we explore the forces that shaped Gaitonde into the dark figure he became and follow the police inspector as he tries to put his own life in order, solve a crime, and possibly save his city. Through interweaving narratives and voices, Sacred Games takes on even larger themes, from the wrenching violence of the 1947 partition of India to the specter of nuclear terrorism.

Vikram Chandra has done an excellent job with this amazing book. This is a 900+ page undertaking but it moves with a terrific storyline and fast-paced action. It’s a book that you’ll read in bits and pieces owning to length. A solid story with many smaller stories intertwined. The main protagonists Sartaj Singh and Ganesh Gaitonde are beautifully written. Not that well covered but very memorable are the two sisters Jojo and Mary. But the smaller characters (present in abundance) are the true scene-stealers. Aadil who appears at the fag end, Sartaj’s co-workers – Kanetkar (and his family), Kamble, Parulkar, Majid Khan; Blackmailed Kamala and her boyfriend, Guruji Shukla, Iffar Biwi – these folks will live with me for a long while. The flashbacks of Gaitonde and Prabhjot Kaur were especially evocative. It’s epic crime fiction story set in the epic city of Bombay, weaving in the Indian mafia, Bollywood, Eastern philosophy, the class of ancient India and a thoroughly modern society, love, lust, loss.

I am glad we have no censor in literature or this book would have never seen the light of the day. The book has everything and in right quantities, perfect story(s), believable true to life characters, amazing love stories, amazing political commentary, corrupt system, not so great lime-light life and a lot more. Hats off to the Author for covering so much in such an amazing way that the reader actually roots not only for the good guys but also for the bad guy at times when they are not so bad. I was surprised by the way I myself was in love with Ganesh Gaitonde at times.

If you have already seen the Sacred Game series on Netflix then the start may seem to boring because the author has built the story from the scratch and details of every part is described so elaborately which can be easily understood by the size of the book. Don’t expect the book to have a story of the Netflix series. It is indeed much much better than the web series for sure. It’s more detailed and the background is intelligently set in the book.

If you haven’t read the book, you need to read it before the Season 2 of the web Series comes out. As I am guessing that they are going to goof it up big time and for sure Season 2 will be a disaster in comparison to the first one which was totally captivating.

My rating : 4.5/5

PS: If you plan to read the book, do not miss the Glossary at the end. The way Author explains the the Hindi words he has used in the entire story is super hilarious, especially the curse words, loved that too 🙂

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