Review: Tungabhadra’r Teere by Sharadindu

Tungabhadra’r Teere (By The Shores of Tungabhadra) by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay

A review

Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay is perhaps most widely known for creating the quintessential Bengali and likeable sharp-witted sleuth, Byomkesh Bakshi. However, there is a fine set of historical fiction he has authored which is a wonderful contribution to Bengali, if not Indian, literature in its own right.This novel is one of the brightest jewels in that crown.

Tungabhadra’r Teere is set in the Vijayanagara empire in the 14th century. The tale begins with a fleet traveling to the kingdom of Vijayanagara. The fleet bears on it two princesses, one of whom is about to be married to the king of Vijayanagara to strengthen a bond of strategic convenience, along with the wedding party.

The chance rescue of a young man and a tempest just before the fleet can arrive at the destination changes the course of the destiny of not just the ships, but also of some of the passengers. What follows is a tale of politics, love and morals. Like any enjoyable historical fiction, Sharadindu’s novel is enjoyable through its characters. Along the way, the age and place become backdrops to a tale which  one feels could well have actually taken place in the exact manner as it is told.

Not just this one but even Sharadindu’s other works of this genre are highly evocative of Bankim Chandra’s novels. Especially when Sharadindu dictates the thoughts of a character and glides from a first-person to a third-person narrative filled the Bankim admirer in me with exquisite joy. I am still biased in favour of the master though and will rate Bankim higher. Nevertheless, Sharadindu has his own undeniable charm and though I could find some themes recurring in different avatars in his historical novels and short stories, these are still pleasurable and at times, delightful reads.

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