Book Review | When the chief fell in love- A Political Romance Centred on Kashmir

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Author: Tuhin A Sinha

The Kashmir issue is a politically contentious one, and many non- fictional and fictional books centred on Kashmir have been written in the recent years. Many of these have become bestsellers, owing to the realistic, gripping, and sometimes harrowing narratives that they delve into. However, the defence minister of India falling in love with the daughter of a Kashmiri separatist leader is an altogether different proposition. The author Tuhin A Sinha comes up with such a book “When the chief fell in love” which is a part-romance, part-political thriller, with the Kashmir issue as the backdrop.

The book cover shows a fascinating portrayal of the Kashmir valley in winter, with its quintessential pine and poplar trees, and the pristine snow-clad mountains overlooking it. However, splotches and trickles of blood are also portrayed on the serene snow, which brings to the fore the ongoing territorial, political and military conflict in Kashmir. Also, two figures holding hands are also shown, which along with the catchy title depicts that an element of romance is also present in this political saga.

The front cover also shows the words “Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat and Insaniyat”, a slogan given by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and the word Hindustaniyat has also been added by the author. These words show the inherent premise that the book is based on and the ideological notions and principles that it represents. The blurb at the back cover also gives a good glimpse into the story, and people interested in political thrillers, albeit with associated romantic stirrings are sure to pick up this book owing to its interesting narrative.


The story follows the journeys of two protagonists- Vihaan Shastri and Zaira Bhat who fall in love with each other during their college years. However, the love affair is short, and they separate. After twelve years, they meet but in an extraordinary situation. Vihaan is the defence minister of the country, and Zaira is the daughter of Kashmir’s leading and most wanted pro-Pakistan separatist leader. There is a terrorist strike at an army camp in Kashmir, and eighteen people are killed, for which Vihaan comes under attack. Meanwhile, Zaira also comes back in his life. What will Vihaan do in such a situation? Will he be able to pull a double coup? Can he save an on-the-edge Kashmir and also win back the love of his life? This is what forms the storyline.

This is a book that should be read for it being something of a literary hybrid, albeit a piquant one, with equal parts of romantic melodrama and gusto of a political thriller thrown in. The romance during their college years is somewhat schmaltzy, but has a matured tone to it when they meet after twelve long years. The political scenario of Kashmir, with all its intricacies has also been detailed well, and readers will definitely love this political romance with a riveting and well-researched narrative.





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