Book Review : Maharaja in Denims – Khushwant Singh


A true page-turner, this book takes you through the various stages of the protagonist, Hari Sandhu’s life as he discovers that he is not just a modernameer-shehzaada but the re-incarnation of the Sher-e-Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh whose empire extended from Tibet to the deserts of Sindh and is spoken of with great grandeur and pride even today.

After seeing his elder brother die right before his eyes in ruinous car crash, Hari becomes an estranged personality showing disinterest in all the things he once pursued. With great care he is restored to his original swanky self where he enjoyed the upscale privileges of driving expensive SUV’s, dating the hottest girls and getting what he wants the way he wanted it. All this continues until, all of a sudden, flashes of a distant past start disrupting his Present. And as the story takes the reader deeper,  he begins to find answers that trace his behaviour and sudden outbursts to that of one of Punjab’s greatest rulers. Will this affect his real life? Will he find the true love of his life or will his fancy for harem girls and night-stands come in the way of his unrequited love? Will he stand up to the expectations of his family or prove to be an utter disappointment to them? These answers lie in his Self Discovery where he faces the harshest of truths, virtually transcending into different eras and feels being part of the riots, massacres and fiery battles that one broke the Golden Nation that India once was into several shattered pieces. He realises he was meant to be what he had once been.

And this Realisation awakens his inner spirit and unearths the reality of the current situation before his once indifferent eyes. A boy who found attending classes cumbersome is now dreaming to be an extremist politician to bring about the change he wishes to see. The Maharaja’s essence and passion seem to be flooding into him and getting outsourced into all the spheres of his life as he transforms and becomes sensitive to the reality. He is pulsating with an inborn energy waiting to thwart away those who tarnish his Nation. Personally, he evolves from being a nineteen-year old with lustful thoughts into a man who understands the meaning of love and protecting whom he values.

This book shows how embracing your past can actually strengthen the foundations of your present and lay the early plinth to your Future. There is no running away. Your demons have to be faced squarely in the eye. And pain and failure are but a part of an ongoing struggle that gives a meaning to your life, which is all about understanding your Calling and pursuing it with all your heart.

With interesting elements of surprises, beautiful outbursts of passionate love, heartbreaking scenarios that bring tears to your eyes to springs of hope that leave you in an afterglow of having travelled a rich literary journey embedded with jewels of the past, painted with scenes from far beyond our frontiers and tales of valiant fighters.

It takes a while for you to step out of the Heritage Caravan that this book takes you on with an interesting tale with baffling revelations. The characters, be it Hari’s striving father; shielding mother; altruistic Suzanne; his witty Prof. Deshbeer or the  buddy in Birmingham, Rocky Singh…have been sketched just pertinently to complement the depth of the story without distracting the reader into alleyways. Beautifully written with honesty, political eloquence and unpretentiousness in a way that the reader is hooked right from the beginning to the last page. You will be glad you made this trip as you can count on the ending to leave you surprised and gasping for more.