Vivek Agnihotri is a very good filmmaker, director and thinker. He has proved the same with his movies and he does not need to prove anything else by writing books. However, from time to time, Vivek has been writing books as well. Two of his books have become bestsellers in India and globally – Urban Naxals and Who Killed Shastri: The Tashkent Files. However, the latter one, the book on Shastri Ji’s mysterious death in Tashkent, is not a book that will interest the readers as the previous one on urban Naxals did. To be frank. Who Killed Shastri seems more like a monologue or a draggy narrative that loses its grip over readers again and again. Nevertheless, let me share my perspectives on this book with you so that you can make the buy or ignore decision.
The book has three parts, named Act I, Act II and Act III. It has 35 chapters and a little more than 330 pages. It is normal to assume a book on an issue like this, sensitive and political, running over 300 pages. So, no big deal here. However, it is more about style and substance rather than the length when it comes to keeping the readers engaged in something like this, a book exposing some conspiracy or a book unveiling secrets long-suppressed.
Chapters are random. The substance is randomly put. Stacked one after another. Is this the right way to offer a book like this? I will leave it up to you. Once you start reading the book, you are greeted with a nice, not lengthy and engaging preface-cum-acknowledgement. You might expect the same alacrity to be maintained by the author throughout the book throughout but the book fails to do so. Yes, you read facts, you are surprised by revelations one after another, you are awe-struck by the parallels drawn by the author and the research work done by him. However, once put together, the impression is fragmented.
Content and Substance:
The book bears the marks of an investigative reporting sans the filing style. The author and his team of researchers involve themselves in a lost cause and offer us many things that we already know and some things that are new, shocking and also act as food for thought. Content can surely be categorised as superior, well-researched and must-read. However, as described above (briefly), it’s also about the style and ways of delivering the content to readers. In that, the author could have done a little better to ensure it’s gripping till the end. Right now, most of the readers would want to reach their conclusion by reading the selected chapters and not the entire book.
The book offers many great angles to explore the possible reasons behind the demise of the second PM of India Lal Bahadur Shastri Ji. The book explores the angles of Gumnami Baba (supposedly Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose) and Homi Bhabha (the hero of Indian Nuclear programs) in the context of Shastri Ji’s death. The book explores the angles of a conspiracy hatched by the CIA, the KGB or even by the Indian politicians of the Congress party. Many angles are new to many readers and I read these parts with utmost curiosity. However, as suggested earlier, the content delivery might disappoint the readers who have read a lot of books on such issues, especially those by Anuj Dhar.
For first time readers or readers who have read a few books on politics and political assassinations, the book will be very interesting because they will savour the content as the content offered by the author in this book is a well-researched document of possibilities and probabilities that try to ascribe the most-suitable one to the unfortunate murder of Shastri Ji. However, for the readers who have read on this issue before, this book might be just another book with a few theories to interest their readership and rest the same conjectures delivered in a way that might not keep the readers glued to the content. The conclusion is also clueless as the author has posed as someone who sermons the readers and blames them for forgetting Shastri Ji. This was an unexpected turn and does not bode well with the serious readers.
Do you want to read it? You will find it useful, interesting and exciting as per your positions. Get a copy from Amazon India and you can have your own opinions about it…
Review by Chitra for The Last Critic
Who Killed Shastri?: The Tashkent Files by Vivek Agnihotri – Book Review
- TLC Ratings
Who Killed Shastri?: The Tashkent Files by Vivek Agnihotri is a book not richly written but rich in content… you will like what you read but you will not like the way you are compelled to read it (if you are a well-read reader).