Shantaram:A review

A "Classic" among novels perhaps is a book that everyone talks about,but nobody bothers to read.


So this one day when I was wandering around in hostel,I found the book with one of my friends.Already fed with too much of hue and cry about this classic called “Shantaram” from the VA faculty at my CAT prep insti,involuntarily I went through the epilogue of the book and this is what I read.

"In the early 80’s Gregory David Roberts,an armed robber and heroin addict,escaped from an Australian prison to India,where he lived in a Bombay slum.There he establishes a free health clinic and also joined the mafia,working as a money launderer and street soldier.He found time to learn Hindi and Marathi,fall in love,and spend time being worked over in an Indian jail.Then,in any case he thought he was slacking,he acted in Bollywood and fought with the Mujahedeen in Afganistan…Amazingly Roberts wrote Shantaram three times after prison guards trashed the first two versions.It’s a profound tribute to his willpower..A high kicking,eye gouging adventure,a love saga and a savage yet tenderly lyrical fugitive’s vision."

Ahh ..That made the wait impossible.

Shantaram“or as a word by word translation 'll say asGod's Man of Peace” is a semi-autobiographic novel penned by an ex-junkie and an ex-con. For a man who dealt from Alpha to Omega of the illegal,the writing of Shantaram leads to skeptical thoughts in the mind of the reader but as it goes,Shataram is a journey;a voyage to Peace of a violent man.
The whole of story has been plotted in Bombay, and it begins when the narrator is already a fugitive from Australian prison.The escape to Bombay makes him meet new people and in the constant efforts of losing from the law,Roberts/Lin/Shantaram lives a quite wide range of times.Amongst the people whom he crosses roads with at this new place includes Prabhakar ,the boy who is his guide in Bombay takes him to his paternal village where he tastes the core Marathi lifestyle and later when he returns to the city, living in the slum casts him as the "slum doctor" where helping his neighbours helps him learn Hindi,make friends and live a community life.Other characters include Abdullah the Iranian fugitive or say the alter ego of Lin,his proxy father Abdul Kader Khan and lots of other people who had something to do with the "illegal ".

Perhaps every character of the novel was living his/her negative shade,but from Robert's pen each and every one of them qualifies to be a lovable human being.
Though its very hard to find a negative aspect of the novel ,if Robert's writings were to be believed,though it is always clear to the reader that the narrator was running with the wrong crowd,the picture of Bombay comes out as a place full of gangsters,cons and fugitives from anywhere to everywhere on earth.Some may not like to believe that.

Also,some may find the writing filled with uncontrolled and ceaseless details,which for some may find unappealing.

The opportunites that one gets while having Shantaram as a read,is of going through a life story filled with typical filmy up's and down's,while knowing all of that really happened.Luckily Amitabh Bachhan ,Johnny Depp and Mira Nair are taking care of the task of making it a film and that is a fact that cheers me up.:D
Also when it comes to the core motive of the writing of the novel which is talking the essence of Love,in all its forms and degrees.The nature of it's being almost never pure,and how not even for a single time its just simple to either give it or recieve,perhaps Roberts has done hell of a good job in conveying the feeling.
Talking of Love that Roberts talks about,perhaps any review of Shantaram just can not end without the mention of "Karla Saaramen".Aaah and the way in which a women with whom one is hopelessly in love with drives him to do things or perhaps turns the life lived in the harshest of conditions into the most cherished times of one simply connects to the core.

For now Roberts is clean and sober and lives in the city of his dreams Mumbai and can be reached through here.

Perhaps all the people we meet,all the instances we live ,all the emotions we feel and all the feelings we bestow on others define us as a person and if a lesson that one can take from the life story of Roberts is to NEVER BREAK.We are never as broken as we think we are.

P.S.:- -I was lucky enough to have some time at Bombay while I was still with the book.Leopolds is a place which seems different altogeter when one has read Shantaram. Beering there with Alok remains one of the most cherished times of my life.

Regarding the quotes from the book,there are so many that there is no point noting them down.This wikiquote link perhaps 'll be a help.


Admin, Team arbitSpeculations said...

...Perhaps all the people we meet,all the instances we live ,all the emotions we feel and all the feelings we bestow on others define us as a person and if a lesson that one can take from the life story of Roberts is to NEVER BREAK.We are never as broken as we think we are.

This summarizes everything, I guess. Interesting review man! Seems that Shantaram has just earned itself another reader. Looking forward to the experience.

P.S. Yes, Leopold was nice. :P

Pravy said...


Mohi said...

God's Man of Peace, Interesting. I am reading this one.

Shivangi Shaily said...

This book is just awesome! Every page I read,made me note down quotable quotes n number of times. Without been there,leopolds n mumbai seems next døør

nitesh bhasker said...

thank you Pranav for such an interesting review.....i am getting hold of "Shantaram" soon. :)

Shivangi Shaily said...

Another book I recommend after Shantaram is 'maximum city' !- Suketu mehta. worth a careful read indeed!

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