Title: Rau — The Great Love Story of Bajirao Mastani by N.S. Inamdar
Author: N.S. Inamdar
Translator: Vikrant Pande
Publisher: Pan Macmillan India
If ‘Bajirao Mastani,’ the movie, was all about forbidden and failed love with two star crossed lovers acting out their well curated dialogues, N.S. Inamdar’s ‘Rau’ (the 1972 Marathi book on which Bhansali’s historical romance is loosely based) is more about how a warrior fights for his country, all the while trying to keep a different sort of a fight out of his domestic life. The grandeur of the big screen lacks in the black and white pages of the book but it’s the story itself that successfully creates a splendid treat for the book lovers.
Inamdar’s Rau is a much detailed version of the life and time of Shrimant Bajirao Peshwa. The Maratha ruler’s administration finds more focus in the book that his romance with his second wife Mastani. He is a willful and valiant soldier but at the same time he comes across as an affectionate individual. His character is flawed and there is nothing larger than life about him. Although he is quick tempered, he fights for what he believes in. He is equally passionate for his empire and the people that make up his life.
The novel also provides an insight into the Indian society during the 18th century. Credited with expanding the Maratha Empire, especially in the north, he was fabled to have never lost a single battle in his brief military career of 20 years. Allegedly, possibly the finest cavalry general ever produced by India. We see the orthodox Hindu Brahmin society of that time that did not object to the Peshwa’s having a concubine in addition to a wife but didn’t offer any acceptance to his marrying her on basis of her caste. Bajirao's brother Chimnaji Appa and their mother, Radhabai, also never accepted Mastani as one of their own. Many attempts were made to take her life, presumably by Chimnaji Appa; she survived with the help of Chhatrapati Shahu. It goes on to show the workings of the society and its narrow-mindedness.
This being a translation, not much can be gleaned about the writing style of the author. What I can say is that Vikrant Pande as a translator has done a good job. Nothing seems to have been lost in translation. The story has all the ingredients that make for a good reading experience. There is romance, history, politics, kings, and warriors. What can go wrong with these combinations? I’d recommend it to all those who enjoy historical romance.
About the Author:
Born in a village in Maharashtra’s Satara district, N.S. Inamdar (1923–2002) was one of India’s foremost Marathi novelists, with a writing career spanning over five decades. He is the author of sixteen historical novels and an autobiography.
About the Translator:
Vikrant Pande has translated Ranjit Desai’s Raja Ravi Varma, Milind Bokil’s Shala and N.S. Inamdar’s Shahenshah. He has worked for over twenty-five years with various multinational companies and is currently heading TeamLease Skills University at Vadodara.
* I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
** Picture courtesy: Amazon.in