RAMAYANA : a tale by Valmiki which depicts the responsibilities, conduct and duties of an ideal person, living an ideal life in an ideal society.
Uffff.....So many "ideals" in one sentence itself!!
Seems like an impossible task to me...And moreover who defines IDEAL?? Everyone has their own definition of Idealism and as for society.. Frankly, most people care two hoots about what the society is up to!!!!
Coming back to the Ramayana, we all know its story and have read books on it and seen it being adapted into movies and drama series and even animated ones for children...
My first brush with Ramayana was on Doordarshan, in 1980's when Ram Gopal Sagar had made a drama series based on Valmiki's story...
And what a hit the series was.. You would not find anyone on the streets on Sunday mornings as people would be glued to their television sets watching Arun Govil playing Ram and Deepika playing Sita!!!!
As a result, funnily, till date the first image that comes to my mind when I think of Shri Ram is of Arun Govil, with his raised right arm, palms facing out, as in giving "aashirwaad", with a serene smile on his face!!!!!
Scion Of Ikshvaku is the latest book by Amish on the life and deeds of Shri Ram..
To be honest, I was not too enthused about this series as I, in all the arrogance of a so-called "seasoned reader", rationalised that there cannot be anything new to add to this well known story and that it will fall short of expectations!!!
But I was in for a surprise!!
This is the first book in the trilogy and it starts with the birth of Shri Ram upto the famous "Sita haran" scene or the kidnapping of Sita by Raavan.
It is a very interestingly written story which offers its readers a completely new take on many important incidents in the life of Shri Ram...
Starting with the birth of Ram, the reason behind the intense hatred between Ram and Raavan, Ram's formative years and his relation with his father, king Dashrath, the reason behind Ram's 14year exile, the story of Jatayu are all written from a completely new perspective, which is a delight and cliched though it sounds, makes one exclaim, " Its different!!"
I especially enjoyed the way Amish took care to explore Ram and Sita's relationship, right from their unconventional first meeting to their wedding and their conversations were Just Right!!
Amish has also made Sita to be a lady with spunk, wits, intelligence and a strong constitution. She is not just a sweet faced docile wife... But then this was expected as Amish always makes the female protagonists to be strong and a companion to their husbands, in every true sense...
King Dashrath is best known as the king of Ayodhya and the father of Shri Ram who dies alone without any of his sons around.. A very one dimensional character who has never been given much importance in any of the Ramayana adaptations....
But the surprise element (at least for me) was the way Amish has sketched the character of king Dashrath. He is shown here as a man who attacks his enemy without any prior planning but only to satisfy his hurt ego and pride. A man who ignores his son during his formative years blaming him for all his failures but turns a full 180° when he realises that his name will become immortal as the father of the next Vishnu throughout history.... A truly selfish man, as Queen Kaykeyi once accused him to be!!!!
There are those who strongly criticise Amish and his storytelling and the subjects which he chooses...
Yes I do agree that he does use a certain style in crafting his stories, which initially seems brilliant but after three books, it does have a " I know what is going to happen" feel but at no point does it make the book boring.
I for one enjoyed the story very much and thanks to Amish have started to respect and admire the principles which Ram stood for and sincerely hope for the other books in the trilogy to be equally entertaining..
Jai Shri Ram!!!