Mohan Timmaraju’s debut fiction, Janardhan Talbot, is set against the backdrop of pre-independent India. The first freedom struggle of 1857 lingers across the storyline and the protagonist, Janardhan, tries to assess the situations in his life – and to find a way forward. Janardhan Talbot is a novel that uses realistic imagery of British-enslaved India in the mid-19th century. An India where no people were allowed the privileges if they belonged to the poor sections of society; an India where people used to be discriminated on the bases of caste and ethnicity and race. Mohan has written this novel with a maturity and a certain experience of listening to the old stories of freedom fighters.
So, the story begins with a certain Janardhan Rao from southern India in the British Raj. He cannot control his anger and enters into a quarrel with the British officers and eventually damages them. However, it is advised to him that he better run away or the British police will get him and try him – maybe kill him too. And there the journey of Janardhan Rao begins. With fate and circumstances and his personal abilities, Janardhan eventually adopts the British accent, behaviour and interpersonal skills. This helps him in getting the identity of Jonathan Talbot – how and why this happens, is something that you should only know after reading the novel or I might be ruining your reading pleasure!
Critically, Janardhan Talbot appears to be a novel that is based on the historical foundations of India – the pre-independent India that strived and struggled hard for her freedom. Mohan, who comes from a family of freedom fighters and patriots, was brought up amidst the stories and narrations of his elders who fought for the country. And so, a desire in him to write something about the independence struggle and the situation of Indians in contrast to the British was always there. Mohan Timmaraju’s work has a patient pace and the readers have the opportunity to travel with the protagonist to the different parts of the world and learn what Janardhan learns.
The novel also unfolds inherent human emotions – love, friendship, envy and ambition. Janardhan Rao is an ambitious Indian young man who tries to enjoy the luxury that the Britishers used to do in a country under their command. However, a struggle in the mind of Janardhan continuously keeps arising and that’s why he keeps thinking of his people, his place, his country and himself in a relative manner.
The readers will love this novel. I am sure about it. Janardhan Talbot is a tale of ambition vs realisation and it comes at the right time. If you have been reading too much of casual writing, time to switch to something serious and read this novel by a debutant with an abundance of experience.
Review by Anand for Indian Book Lovers
Janardhan Talbot - Volume 1
A very good novel! You cannot ignore this one if you love reading serious fiction.