Books · Reviews

Book Review — Titu Mir by Mahasweta Devi

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Titu Mir, son of a farmer Nisar Ali is a righteous and willful lad. Since childhood, he has been running wild, helping others with no regard for the danger it might put him in. His family’s expectations of him carrying forward his father’s legacy are crushed when he chooses another life path. Titu goes on to become the voice of the poor folk in Bengal during the time of the British Raj. His valiance exudes the motivation needed to urge the farmers and vendors to take a stand. Soon his sons, brothers, nephew and friends joins him in this patriotic cause. He gathers courageous men from different communities and trains an army to revolt against the corrupt landlords and British authorities. Many planters, landowners and goons stand in his way, underestimating the strength of a lathi-wielding vigilante. They learn their mistakes the hard way. Mahasweta Devi captivates us with this historical tale about Bengal, the riots, the peasant community and the diktats of the British.

The setting of the plot is mostly rural Bengal and focuses on those subjugated by the Britishers. I found it a little difficult to keep track of the multiple villages and towns that were featured in the book. Nevertheless, the story is easy enough to understand. The unfair settlement laws held in place are upturned when Titu Mir takes matters into his own hands. Titu Mir has a family of his own, whom he leaves quite often to train individuals, meet allies, procure necessities etc. It is understandable that a soldier of the nation makes tons of compromises, so expecting him to devote time to his family would be a little unreasonable. The first few chapters involves major time leaps. We read about Titu as a kid and soon after as a teenager and then as an adult. There were many people who were instrumental to his achievements. Something I found to be enlightening about this book is that it clears certain misconceived perceptions about Muslims which gets added to, by the enemies, to portray the Muslims as being aggressive and against other religions. Which is far from true. This book offers a lot of detailed information but not so much so that it becomes a history textbook. It addresses social concerns like oppression, vandalism, theft, arson. The story pulls you in and instills in you a sense of nationalism. I loved the book so much. It is a fulfilling account of the Wahabi Movement and how our countrymen dealt with the British. MUST MUST READ!

Ratings – 5 stars on 5.

Meera

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