Book: The Rozabal Line
Author: Ashwin Sanghi (First printed under his pseudonym/anagram Shawn Haigins)
The story is based on innumerable other books/websites/theories etc, but it is also heavily (read very heavily) reminiscent of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. An Indian version to Brown’s work. A little more in theory and quite less in terms of punch and enigma. Maybe because we’ve already read Brown’s explosive narrative about Jesus Christ* and the conspiracy around the Crucifixion. Maybe because his style and story is so close to Dan Brown’s work. I don’t know. You decide for yourself.
While reading this the biggest problem I faced was to keep track of the time line. The story leaps from 2000 BC to current times in a matter of paragraphs. Yes, Paragraphs. The story is based along the lines of the alleged theory that Jesus Christ* had not only come to India, not only fathered children, but also died here. Also, the historical/mythological punch comes in the form of him being entombed here, in Kashmir. The story is, to say it mildly and without offense, inspired from Da Vinci on many levels. The entire thing about the Illuminati and the Feminine Power is all too familiar. Especially the Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ’s* marriage and the rose line and the womb/chalice thingy is repeated, used and overused in this story.
While I swallowed the plot irrespective of the multi layered narration and some million characters, what I could not swallow were a few things which, in retrospect makes me laugh.
The past life regression sessions that Vincent has with Martha, his aunt, is really laughable. It makes for a rancid read to an intelligent mind. The scenario of birth and re-birth is made so simple, and facetious that we start questioning the very intention of writing the tripe! One man/woman related to people today was related to the same set of people two thousand years ago, although, in a different way.
Sample this: I was killed 2000 years back by a lady who was my mistress. Now, in the present, I kill a nurse (who is the same mistress after a series of re-births) for some stupid reason. The author wants us to believe that the entire cosmic creation was hell bent on helping me take revenge of my murder by making me kill her.
Take that Karma!
This is what has been repeated time and again in the book. The theory of Karma has been reduced to an equation along the lines of 1+1=cosine of vengaboys, which is a blatant insult to “1”, “+” “cosine” and “=”!
If this wasn’t enough we have various other forms of pseudo-historical phenomenon dished out to you (I’m sorry. I am not a believer of everything Brown or Sanghi tells me). When Brown told me that the word Assassin was a vulgar form of the word Hassasin which, in turn was an Arabic derivation which had something to do with Hashish and that the RC gave it a nasty spin to defame the language because it belonged to Islam, I accepted it. It sounded plausible.
But if on tell me that Brahma was nothing, but Abraham I will smirk. I will smirk some more if you tell me that Krishna was nothing but what Jesus* was called in India because, Krishna was originally written as CHRISTNA.
But, I will break out in unconstrained and unrestrainable laughter if you come up and tell me that Mary Magdalene was from Magadha, and that is why she’s called Magdalene!
Look, it is not that Ashwin is making up this mumbo jumbo himself. He has given an extensive glossary at the back telling us where exactly he picked up the details from. I am going to cut some slack because the guy did research a lot. And when I say a lot. I mean truckloads. The glossary goes on for 5-6 pages and he gives us names of books and links on the web where he picked up ideas from. He was doing honest good research. I will give him that. He did a lot of reading. He even read the same book which, allegedly, Dan Brown plagiarised!
But, with the amount of research that went into this it could’ve been a mega book. But the issue lay in the fact that Ashwin tried connecting the dots, and there were some 1,00,00,00,000 dots. The story got lost somewhere among so many dots and details. He has a little of every religion, of every conspiracy, of every event. I read a review on Goodreads, I forgot who it was, but it said that he wrote it in such a way that this would be his one and only book; that Ashwin was sure that he won’t be writing another one. He had done some pretty back breaking research. Hats off to him.
Apart from accepting the hard-work that went into it there is not much to say. It was an honest effort. It was supposed to bear fruits, which it did! He is about to co-write an Indian thriller with one of my favourites, James Patterson!
The end, I would like to mention, was not satisfactory at all. It left you with an aftertaste of an incomplete movie.
Anyway, I would give it 3/10 for the story telling. There wasn’t much cope with all the raw data around hitting you at every page!
Around, 6/10 for the research which is commendable.
And, to top it, I’d give him a 3/10 for originality. There is very little of that for sure! But he did manage to weave a story, no matter how unsatisfactory, around a billion dots, so…
* (Peace Be Upon Him)