Monday, August 18, 2008

The Epic Saga.. Retold !!

Every so often, we hear stories of good triumphing over evil, stories of men and women who inspire us or stories that are beyond the realm of mankind and earth-kind and yet inspire us. But there's one story that ecompasses all this and more - the epic tale of ramayana.

But what, pray tell, is left to be told of this epic tale that has been narrated time and again in the form of books, teleserials, cartoons and theatre? Nothing ? Thats what I thought till I chanced upon a gem titled "Prince of Ayodhya" by Ashok Banker (published by Penguin). It was first of the collection of 6 books kept in a desolate corner of my institute's library. Apart from the (highly) abridged version of the Ramayana that I'd studied as part of my school's Hindi curriculum, I never really had a detailed exposure to this monumental epic. The book looked inviting.. and well.. since it was only one of the 6 books that I'd have to read to get the entire story of Ramayana, I'm sure it must have been pretty inviting for me to actually pick it up and read in between the hectic MBA schedule.

I generally pride myself on my selection of books - I read very little but I've thoroughly relished and enjoyed every book that I've read. This one didn't let me down either.

From the very initial pages detailing the source and the history of various versions of Ramayana, Ashok Banker gives you a sense of the richness of the magnum opus that would unfold in the books to follow. The story that has been told and re-told again and again is told YET again.. but this time with the finesse of an artist who lends new colours, vibrancy and imagination to the same old portrait. This is Ramayana like never before - The dialogues, settings and events are realistic enough to teleport you to the Ayodhyan era, the sorcery and the witchcraft is binding enough to keep you glued to the pages and the emotions are touching enough to melt your heart.

My heart skipped a beat when Manthra shot a green flame of light from her forked tongue, it sank when Rama used the Brahma-astra to elimiate the asura forces and it almost stopped beating when Parasuram's axe touched Rama's neck only to dissipate concentric circles of sound evergy leaving Rama unscathed !

With every page I turned, there was just one thought that crossed my mind - If this book were to be adapted scene by scene in the form of a movie, won't it put the likes of 'The Matrix', 'Lord of The Rings', 'Spiderman', 'Superman' and 'Star Wars' to complete shame? My guess - Yes ! It would !

Till Next Time..



Gagan said...

Nice !

But i am so annoyed with myself... cause I don't remember anything I read. I don't know why I have a memory of a gold fish. Its really annoying beyond imagination !
I read with so much interest... two days later I have forgotten all names and places and blah blah.. Gosh !!!

-- frustrated gagan !

Gagan said...

Hey 1RV02IS001,

Your blog visitors doubled up in no time! Stop sitting online and refreshing your blog.

-- Nostalgic Gagan

Gagan said...

Hey Abhinav

How u been. Placement season on n all ah ? How's it going for you :D

-- jobless gagan

Aham Brahmasmi... said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aham Brahmasmi... said...

If there was any less confusion in India to prove Ramayana as a myth or a true but glorified story by now; I am sure this Banker's Ramayana would assure that 10-20 years down the line... it would surely be believed to be a myth only. Wish someone could tell it in more realistic and rational manner, than adding his own overdoses of colourful sorcery into the epic-story.Phaaa... :(

Now to make my comment a bit milder (Am I pissed off with Mr. Banker?)...
And indeed if a movie is made with this book, then super-sure it would rake millions for the amazing FX thing it will showcase! :P

Abhinav Kishore said...

Hi "Aham Brahmasmi",

Point taken and to each his own!

But there are times when an author needs to go beyond the boundaries of what is "expected", what the social norms prescribe and take a few artistic liberties. I doubt if the intention of the book was to make Ramayana a "believable" tale - the intention, as is clearly specified in the intro of the book, is to lend a new perspective to the tale and make it more appealing to present day readers like ourselves.

Particularly inspiring is the little anecdote in the intro - Valmiki himself didn't know the complete tale - he filled in the gaps only with Brahma's assurance that nothing he writes will ever be inappropriate :)

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