WRITING STYLE: 3.5/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4/5
“I read [history] a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all – it is very tiresome.” – Jane Austen
Well, if Jane Austen were alive today and if she were to read “Mastani”, it would change her perception of history.
This book is the story of Mastani, one of the most misunderstood characters of Indian History. Most of us have either, never heard about her or have heard multiple versions of her story. Some say she was the daughter of a Sultan; some call her a dancing girl; some say she was a Sultan’s mistress. Kusum Choppra, through this book, has tried to clear all the mysteries surrounding Mastani and bring us her true story.
The author, one-by-one, strikes off all the controversial theories through an elaborate research & logical reasoning. This book establishes Mastani’s royalty & her lineage to the Bundelas of Madhya Pradesh. It tells us about her marriage to Bajirao, her life in the marital home, her influence over the politics & campaigns of Bajirao, her children, her religion, her tensions with Bajirao’s family and her eventual death.
Even though the book is pure history, you will not find it boring because it is written in novel-style, with dialogues, character descriptions and beautiful narrations. The love story of Bajirao-Mastani is written in a Bollywood masala style. Each and every event, be it a function or a war campaign or a petty family squabble, is explained in great detail which I found bordering between history & fiction. Even though the central character of this book is Mastani, Kusum has written about many other characters in great detail – Chhatrasal, Bajirao, Kashibai, Radhabai, Appaji, Nana etc.
Another thing I loved about this book is the ending. The author gives us two possible endings and leaves us to choose. One, is about the widely accepted story of Mastanis’ death and the other is an alternate theory developed by the author with a plausible explanation.
The book gives a wonderful insight into the culture, traditions, politics and even the average day-to-day life of a Maratha family in those times. It is a mine of historical information for all those who are interested.
Verdict – This book is a must for people who love history and classical romance. The story-style writing of the book may also be appealing to all those who are not much into history.