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A Bird From Afar imagines what Bose would've done if WW2 had gone differently: Anshul Chaturvedi

Chandigarh:It was an evening of history lessons and lively discussions as senior journalist Anshul Chaturvedi's debut historical fiction novel on Subhas Chandra Bose, titled A Bird From Afar, was launched by NITI Aayog CEO, Amitabh Kant, in Delhi on Wednesday at the week-long Kitaab Festival organised by the Prabha Khaitan Foundation, presented by Shree Cement, and in association with India International Centre. Marketing maven Suhel Seth and National Award-winning filmmaker Nila Madhab Panda were special guests on the occasion.
The book, Chaturvedi's fourth, is a fictional narrative of "World War 2 going differently at critical moments in 1942, and Subhas and his Indian Legion raised in Germany exploring if that presented an opportunity to ‘Chalo Dilli’". 

About his inspiration behind the book, Chaturvedi said, "Subhas Bose is many things to many people, but, to me, he is, in a distant way, of course, someone I empathize with, am almost fond of. I cannot find one easy and conflict-free phase of his life. I cannot find easy, obvious or universally acceptable choices coming his way. And I admire the manner in which he faced the endless series of conflicts and dilemmas life sent his way, almost in an assembly-line fashion, without, at any point, being a man of compromise or adjustment. And I admire even more how, instead of being nothing more than a man of steel forged by all those fires, he retained and sustained his sensitivity, his concern, his inclusiveness, his objectivity. Like so many, I too have at some points mulled over some or the other “if this had been” aspect of his life. Given that I have been almost an obsessive consumer of WW2 for decades, even as I read (and wrote a little) about Subhas, over time, the mind drew up its own stories, its conjectures to 'what would Subhas have done if - ?' And I searched for some such stories to read, like Robert Harris’s Fatherland, in the Indian context. I could not find much, perhaps because there is in any case so much mystery, intrigue and speculation about his real life. And then, I somehow ended up writing the book that I wanted to read.”

Speaking about the book, Kant said, "It is a tremendous reading, because of the subject he (Chaturvedi) is dealing with. And he deals with it with a lot of compassion. Imagine the ethical dilemmas that Subhas Chandra Bose was undergoing, he wanted to free India and so had to work with the Nazis. All these dilemmas have been brought into the book with such fascinating details. The book brings out Bose's character, uniqueness and commitment to the freedom of India. It's one of the finest books I have read in recent times."

"Authors are made up of craft, compassion and empathy. Where the book scores is that it not only defines the persona of Netaji, but also his purpose. Very few books do that. When history is conveyed anecdotally, it tends to be remembered more. That is why very few historians make for great authors, because they miss the story-telling. Where this book again scores, is that it gives you an insight into a historical perspective, yet retaining the base of story-telling and the memorability of the anecdotal references," Seth told the audience.
Adding to the discussion, Nila said, "Going back to history, reading someone's mind like this, it is very daring. I have never read historical fiction, this is my first one, and hats off to Anshul." 
The book is available on and at leading bookstores.

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