Book Review – The Boy Who Fought an Empire by Rajesh Talwar 

The lives of people who fought for India’s independence have always been larger than ordinary, but there has been very limited discussion about them beyond their biographies. “The Boy Who Fought an Empire” by Rajesh Talwar is an accurate depiction of the life of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, his enigmatic personality, his thought process being of a different level justified through his logic and the calm personality he maintained to solve the problems he faced. The dramatic form gives life to his personality which may have been lost in the paragraphs of prose otherwise. By capturing Netaji’s life, the author also delivers life-changing messages for the readers that will become their guide in the long run as they live their lives through different situations.

The introduction of the character of Netaji through the eyes of school kids serves as a powerful reminder of that fact that the right values and habits are inculcated and taught in the impressionable ages of children so that they grow up into responsible citizens. This concept of metadrama has been used by dramatists earlier too, but Talwar’s usage gives it a new blend and form and drives the message through the characters. The readers may have their own inferences but hearing the characters gives them additional food for thought.

In the garb of a play, “The Boy Who Fought an Empire” serves the dual purpose of educating the readers about India’s freedom struggle as well as the life of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Mature readers will also find the psychological analysis of the states of mind of the people back then and the insightful understanding of Netaji where he had sown the seeds that sprung into effect after his death and continued to do so much later. This honest depiction of life, situations, circumstances and the power of determination make the drama a suggested reading for everyone.

“The Boy Who Fought an Empire” is recommended to all those readers who are interested in reading about India’s freedom struggle from an individualistic point of view where the motive was to free the country one way or another. It is also recommended to younger readers so that they can have an enriched understanding of the events in that time in a manner that may not be taught in history books. In today’s generation, the youngsters may also not be aware of India’s freedom struggle in so much depth. This book is recommended to those too. Moreover, the relevance of the book extends to the coming generations as Netaji’s story will continue to inspire people later too.

Besides everything, it is Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s character and charismatic personality that forms the core and heart of “The Boy Who Fought an Empire.” His life, right from his boyhood to becoming a young man is explored in brief but at length through the replicating of the important incidents that defined his character. While they exhibited the principles he followed, they also showed his resoluteness, precision of thought, understanding of right and wrong and the innate deep desire to help people. His fearlessness, calm demeanour, clarity of vision and resilience are other characteristics that are appropriately reflected through the enactments. The courageous acts depicted in the scenes serve as guiding light for the readers of today who develop the belief that efforts towards betterment and the right aspects are never wrong.

At the same time, his willingness to at lengths to help the poor and needy win him the admiration of the readers and his patriotic zeal fills the readers with pride and appreciation for everything Netaji did for the country. His determination to go to any extent to get India independent and seeking help from wherever possible highlights his resolve. Simultaneously, his meeting and dealing with Hitler also showcase his political understanding and the willingness to never compromise for his country or his countrymen. Generations may pass but his contributions will always shine through in history and become the guiding light for the future.

The children doing the play are also shown as wise characters. Mihir knows what incidents can hold potential and attract attention. He carefully selects them and showcases them with poignance, loyalty and conciseness. “The Boy Who Fought an Empire” may be read or enacted, the effect that it will have on the audience will be the same. As much as they will be enamoured by Netaji’s character, they will also be able to trace the impacts he can have on today’s generation too and how his life can be an example for many.

Therefore, Rajesh Talwar’s “The Boy Who Fought an Empire” is recommended to all readers not only for the quality the author delivers but also for his artistic versatility where he has earlier written groundbreaking work like “The Killing of Aarushi and The Murder of Justice,” “Aurangzeb: The Darkness in His Heart,” “The Vanishing of Subhash Chandra Bose: Mystery Unlocked,” “The Mantra and Meaning of Success” and many others.

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