‘You had everything working for you, I see!’
‘Do you know what went in my favour? It was the fact that you all found your own hate lines?’
These lines from ‘Shakuni & The Dice of Doom: Book 2 of the Mahabharata Series’ by Mallar Chatterjee sums up the timeless message of the book.
The Mahabharata is an oft-told tale and interpreted in diverse perspectives to date. Yet, Mallar Chatterjee gives his spin to the tale, taking a few creative liberties with the story. I was quite impressed with his debut ‘Yudhisthira: The Unfallen Pandava’ because even a non-mythology reader like me couldn’t help but be enticed by the passionate narrative.
I felt that the ‘Yudhisthira: The Unfallen Pandava’ book cover didn’t do it justice back then. So, I was pleased to see Shakuni’s attractive cover page. The book starts brilliantly, keeps up the tempo for a long time, slugs a bit in-between, picks up again, and winds up impressively.
But overall, Shakuni is a much better work than Yudhisthira as it’s more focused, better edited, and overall crisper.
I loved Mallar’s captivating storytelling style. It was starkly visual in most places.
While Yudhisthira completely lacks the female perspective, which I did mention in my review, Mallar Chatterjee takes it into account in Shakuni. While he closely looks at the Mahabharata from Shakuni’s perspective in this book, he takes turns in some chapters to remarkably dwell into the minds of other characters, including Kunti’s. Interestingly even though the book is all about Shakuni, my favorite character undoubtedly is Vidur in this one.
Like in ‘Yudhisthira: The Unfallen Pandava,’ Mallar Chatterjee looks at his characters, interestingly even Shakuni in shades of grey. In the end, he persuasively gets you not just to empathize but also genuinely understand and like Shakuni. Quite a remarkable feat!
The book is also evolved in its thought process, as it makes us reflect at the perils of caste, occult & astrology, and hate politics.
My ultimate takeaway from this enchanting read is that hate can bring no good at all. All it can bring is misery and doom for the person harboring the hatred, and his/her environment.