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Thursday, June 06, 2013

Nur Jahan - A Diverse Character … perhaps in both books

As I was reading Indu Sundaresan’s ‘The Feast of Roses’, I was immediately struck by how different her characterization was to Alex Rutherford’s ‘The Tainted Throne’. While of course, there is the mention of opium and drink in both the books, it is surprising that both characters are so different.

In both books, Jahangir gives up on the throne while giving Mehrunissa almost all the power she would need to rule in the background. So, though I read both books and was familiar with the story, the characterization remained important. Was it really Nur Jahan’s wily schemes to run the kingdom and encourage him to take opium and swallow all the wine? Or was it Jahangir, himself, who though helped along by his wife, took on both these vices himself.

The character remains important and is starkly different in both these books. At the end of it, you are left with a vaguely sorry feeling in Sundaresan’s book, while one feels like Mehrunissa got what she deserved in Rutherford’s version.

One can see the difference, in actions, reactions, feelings, thoughts and mannerisms. Mehrunissa’s actions and reactions are kind of similar in both these books. But her feelings and thereby her thoughts or vice versa are quite different. Her feelings towards Khurram and Ladli are felt with much more impact in Sundaresan’s book. One notices a certain softening of her character, and one does feel for the mother, she is.

Ladli is also developed better, and is given due prominence in Sundaresan’s book. In Rutherford’s version, there is no standing of Ladli’s character. Rutherford has strongly written about the shrewd and her intelligent facets of Nur Jahan’s role as the queen.

Even Shah Jahan’s character is seen as a stronger version in Rutherford’s book, but in Sundaresan’s version, he seems to take on the devious role but with almost no importance. Arjumand’s character takes on a larger role perhaps in the grand scheme of things in Sundaresan’s book, where as she almost had nothing to do in Rutherford’s, other than being knowing that she was the main reason behind the Taj Mahal.

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