Monday, December 24, 2018

Book Review: Jahangir: An Intimate Portrait of a Great Mughal by Parvati Sharma

Title: Jahangir: An Intimate Portrait of a Great Mughal

Author: Parvati Sharma

Publisher: Juggernaut

In her latest book, “Jahangir: An Intimate Portrait of a Great Mughal,” Parvati Sharma shines a light on the fourth and least known Mughal ruler, Jahangir aka Salim.

Nuruddin Muhammad Salim started to call himself “Jahangir,” seizer of the world, long before his father Akbar died and unwillingly left him the throne. Shadowed by the greatness and grandeur of his father Akbar, son Shah Jahan, and wife Nur Jahan, whatever is known about Jahangir is further marred by his drug abuse. He had fallen victim to overindulgence in drink and opium, was mercurial, ill-tempered, and loved the signs of royal power. But behind all these, there lurked a canny ruler and conscientious administrator. In Sharma’s book, we get acquainted to this version of Jahangir.

Jahangir inherited none of his father’s empire-building drive, but he was a patron of the arts. He was an excellent hunter, a naturalist, a mystic, and a book lover. He loved statistics and traveled mainly to catalog the characteristics of his country through its myriad flora and fauna.

The author’s descriptions of the royal court and life are superb. Her detailed explorations of Jahangir’s life reflect her long study, deep understanding, and modern take on a little-explored subject. She forsakes the scholarly approach and examines her subject with a humanistic eye.

Sharma fares elegantly well using her skills as an acclaimed fiction writer. Through her book, she tells a compelling story about one of the most fascinating and perhaps the most undervalued rulers of India. Her writing is enriching in its historical sweep and context. It gives the readers a totally new perspective on the life and time of Jahangir. Her writing is crisp with a uniform flow of thoughts. There are no hiccups and I daresay, it is one of my finest reads of this year.

Jahangir is a page-turning, eye-opening biography of a man whom history remembers only through his relationships with others.

Parvati Sharma's debut, The Dead Camel and Other Stories of Love, earned her a cult following for its depictions of love and sexuality in urban India. Her novella, Close to Home, was acclaimed as 'tender, acute and pulsing with real Indian life'. She has also written a book for children, The Story of Babur. Sharma has worked as a travel writer, editor and journalist.

I'd like to thank the publisher for letting me review the book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading!

* I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

** Picture courtesy:,

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