Thank you Pan Macmillan India for sending me a copy of this book for review 🙂
N.S Inamdar’s Rau wonderfully captures the life and times of the great Peshwa Bajirao. It allows us deeper insight into the events that propelled the prosperity of the Maratha Empire. Bajirao’s role is monumental as he relentlessly pursues Hindavi Swaraj, trying to rid India of the tyranny of all external forces. The novel introduces Mastani, an entertainer whose performances in the court begin to draw the Peshwa’s attention. Soon, a relationship blossoms between the two, much to the astonishment of others. As Bajirao finds himself falling in love with Mastani, he is forced to face a society that is highly intolerant of intercaste relationships. What is more, his loved ones too refuse to accept Mastani, thereby isolating Bajirao in his struggle. Rau mirrors the heartbreak and burden that follows suit with being titled the Peshwa.
This book that inspired the film is a lot more wholesome in its attempt to convey the highs and lows of Bajirao’s reign. Firstly, a larger chunk of the text concerns Bajirao’s conquests in comparison to the romance quotient. This helps us understand Bajirao’s mien sans Mastani. He is a willful, valiant and affectionate individual. Although he is quick tempered, he fights for what he believes in. It is rather sad that, for a Peshwa who gave his all to the society, he finds himself alone towards the end of his journey. Secondly, Mastani is not the warrior princess as depicted in the movie. Rather, this novel highlights her demure and agreeable nature. She is selfless and always ready to forgive other’s transgressions. Thirdly, the novel presents to us the next generation and gives importance to the rest of the family. It was great to learn more about the family and how they were integral catalysts of events at that time.
Radhabai, Bajirao’s mother is an austere women, defined by the traditions and symbolic of the narrow minded society. I didn’t much like her. Kashibai is portrayed to be a responsible and loving wife who gets neglected because of Bajirao’s growing affection for Mastani. The novel is not split into chapters, rather it is divided into four parts. Albeit this division is uncommon, it does not hamper the reading pace. I found the first few pages to be a tad bit slow. But then Bajirao’s zeal captivates you and holds on till the end. His strength is infectious and urges one to be firm about their beliefs even if the entire world is against it. Originally written in Marathi, it is a moving tale about love, sacrifice and the irony of possessing power but losing out on the one thing that an individual cherishes the most. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and would definitely recommend it to all who love historical accounts or simply want to glean more about Peshwa Bajirao and the Maratha Empire.
Ratings – 4 stars on 5