The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi falls in the category of conspiracy theory fiction. The fact that it has to compete with such giants like Faucault’s Pendulum or Da Vinci Code makes the task of the writer difficult. But Sanghi has already proven his mettle in story telling with already a best seller Chanakya’s Chant in his credit. Thus the expectation from this novel is sky high. As the name indicates, the novel is an adrenalin ride based on the life of Krishna, the most enigmatic character in Indian mythology. It reads in between the lines of Mahabharatha, Bhagavatha and many other ancient scriptures and tries to tell a story of treasure hunters whose fate lies on solving the clues provided in them.
The biggest issue with Indian history is its ambiguity. Our ancient history is never recorded in a factorial manner like Greek or Roman history. There are only loose versions of events and personalities spread over many epics, scriptures and folklores. Many incidents are exaggerated, many are subdued and most are allegorized thus leaving many black holes in the narrative. Half baked and prejudiced historic studies in Colonial times also worsened the ambiguity. This gives ample scope for writers to reinterpret the events and form conspiracy theories. Sanghi uses this to his advantage by using up almost all the conspiracy theories related to Indian mythology in his narrative.
A man claiming to be Kalki Avataar, the last of ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, is on a killing spree. A Professor with expertise in Ancient Indian History is framed for the crimes. His only chance of survival now lies in solving a mystery from past. Along with him or against him in the rat race are some curious personalities with motives of their own- greed, love, loyalty, revenge and piety. An underworld don with a curious lineage, a stubborn lady police officer, a corrupt CBI officer who will do anything for money, a criminal lawyer and so on… Lead by Saini gathering clues from Indian mythology and History, they are on a dangerous journey to uncover a secret from past that can render every modern technology obsolete.
The Krishna Key uses every conspiracy theory and controversial historical theories perpetrated in the subcontinent to prove its point. In Umberto Eco’s novel Faucault’s Pendulum there is a very interesting observation about conspiracy theories. It is very easy to make a connection between too seemingly unconnected events if one has a superficial but wide knowledge and good imagination. In that novel some men starts making a new conspiracy theory for fun and it goes out of their hands, finally they themselves believing the lies. Here too this complex is evident. Every bit of historical information, however farfetched it may seem, is made to bear a connection to Krishna. I am not making this point to demean the work of its immense readability, because in this genre, this quality is a must to make the novel interesting.
The Krishna Key as I have told is very readable thanks to the fast pace, clever plot twists and diverse information thrown at the reader in regular intervals bewildering them. One negative point about the narration is its lack of good characterization. One does not feel a bit for Saini or any other character however deep distress they are in. But this deficiency is mostly covered up by the ambiance that Krishna Key creates in reader’s mind. It takes us into several mystery- laden and exotic places in the subcontinent. I would definitely suggest this novel to people who loves page turners.