Book Review: Cuckold by Kiran Nagarkar


It is a 608 pages long book of historical fiction but it reads like a fast thriller. Kiran Nagarkar has no qualms about the fact that he has fictionalized the life of Bhoj Raj Singh. A guy who is very little known to history. History remembers him as the poor husband of Meera bai- the Little Saint. His marital life is far from a bliss. He falls in love with multiple women including his own wet nurse. Yes, there is incest in the history of Mewar but that is the least scandalous scandal of the book.

The cuckold is helpless only because his adversary is The Blue God- Lord Krishna himself. Then there is the war side of the novel. There are moats being dug and cannons being fired. It is all very gripping. The Battle of Khanua is the climax of the book. But in no way is it the highest peak of the novel. The battles fought at Idar, Mandu and Panipat were equally gripping.

The book is coloured in the colours of Mewar. Chittor is the center of all action for the most part. The vamps like Karmawati, the politicians like Lakshman Simhaji, the warriors like Rana Sanga complete the motley crew. The characters do seem to be a bit cardboard with Vikramaditya taking the cake as the monotonously evil guy but that is because the canvas of the novel is too vast to focus on individual voices.

One criticism I read about the book was that it has a language that does not suit a period drama. Admittedly, it is written in simple, postmodernist prose but, I do not why that would be a problem. The purists who want to read the book in classical language might as well insist on reading it in Mewari- the language prevalent in Rajasthan.

Yes, the prose in modern English is impossible to fathom as the expressions are also anglicized but it is an interesting take. I would prefer it over a book written in English yet carrying the load of Mewari, using the local idioms and then explaining them in English. This was a much easier approach.

The book is also a political treatise. How Babur made his wars in Jihads while the secular Mewaris tried to resist the temptation of colouring the war with religion– forms an interesting reading.


5 stars all the way.

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