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Book: Sikandar - 10 Players, 68 Days
Author: Binayak Banerjee, Soma Ghosh
Alexander the Great was known and called as “Sikandar” in India after his invasion. So, wait! Is the book “Sikandar” penned by Binayak Banerjee in Bengali and translated to English by Soma Ghosh about Alexander or some Indian king? Curiosity led me to book back. As soon as I read the gist of the story from the last page, I could not help thinking about Stone Cold Steve Austin’s movie “The Condemned”. The story of the movie is that 10 condemned criminals will be left to fight in an island and only one will survive. The plot of this novel is similar, where the author has attempted to portray 10 tangled personalities, the turmoil and vehemence between them, who are locked under the same roof contesting in a reality show. This could be Binayak’s original idea, but a movie was already made out of this idea. I thought Let’s read anyway.
The story begins with a news broadcast where the newsreader does a live report with the participants. What is so quizzing is that how come a news broadcast focuses so much only this program details that too even before it begins. For crying out loud, there is no trace about the program’s public response and popularity considering the hype given in the beginning. Each character introduces them giving a brief background. The one who leaves the house last will be declared as true “Sikandar”. The contestants are diversified. They range from a prominent politician to a poor guy, leaving the reader snooping who the winner will be. Author has beautifully portrayed the other side of celebrities giving us a look into their fears, passion, greed and humanity. However, there are high chances that the reader might get lost in the over populated characters and it’s pretty hard to track and remember character as the story progress.
To add to the tousled story, comes an unsolved murder and a scandal. Pace at which the plot moves is very sluggish and fails to have a grip on the reader, though a deep insight about every character can be obtained in the run. It would have been highly intriguing had the author shed some light on how the program was broad-casted or the whereabouts of contestant’s selection. But guess what?. You do not know that till the end. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to connect with any character though there was a handful. Probably that’s why it didn’t come close to my heart and gave me a feel that it is just yet another book. The novel leaves you wondering, “What the author is trying to tell in the end?” Despite all these drawbacks, the climax was totally unpredictable and also gives you the flavor of the reality shows shadow side though how hard you think you will never be able to figure the logic behind it. Although I haven’t read the Bengali version, I somehow felt that translation hasn’t crippled the essence and originality. Good work Soma!
To sum up in a single line ‘Sikandar is a kaleidoscope’. It shows different colors and patterns but no value or moral to back up. Can be chosen to read casually or for a train journey.Please buy the book from your local bookstore.