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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Book Review : 'Arjuna - Saga of a Pandava Warrior Prince' by Anuja Chandramouli

Arjuna, Saga of a Pandava Warrior Prince. That is how the book was titled. As a reader, with a penchant for mythology, I wanted to pick it up in an instant. The cover, however was not attractive. It did not show Arjuna, in the warrior pose, as it should have. I liked the humble warrior image there is on the inside of the book, better.

This book's text isn’t really different and reads like what I had read when I was a child. It seemed to have everything straight from the best of Amar Chitra Katha’s comic books. And so, actually it wasn’t that difficult imagining the whole scenario in my head.

It became easier, as page after page, I could remember ACK's Mahabharata, as I had read it for the first time. In ACK comics, every bit of it. Yet, the adult reader who has never read the ACK comics is probably given a glimpse into the story. I have found a few readers who have never read the full version of the Mahabharata and have limited knowledge of the story. They might find the odd interesting parts.

The only parts, which I found to be a little different was when Chandramouli hit the so - called adult stuff. She had to use her imagination because the comic variety missed Urvashi’s story, for example. Chandramouli fails to write for your imagination. There are also parts such as the Kuru line, the ten names of Arjuna, Duryodhana’s ancestries, the weapons and their origins, which are all new. 

But let us go back to the title of the book. ‘Arjuna, Saga of a Pandava Warrior Prince’. The book is just a Mahabharata comic book, rehashed. It begins with an entire cast of the characters. This was a superb idea, something which I have missed forever in most books, I’ve read. Especially, mythological ones. 

We then go on to the prologue, which is basically telling us how the story began. From Pandu to Kunti and Indra, their early days, moving on to Drona, Karna’s arrival, the immediate  beginnings of the Karna - Arjuna’s hate story, the arrival of Draupadi and the various wives of Arjuna. Moving on, the clash of dice, the forest, and Arjuna’s quest for celestial weapons, the Brihannala angle, then the start of Kurukshetra, and the end of the war, with Duryodhana’s death. There is the midnight massacre, ending with the walk to heaven, which the Pandavas undertake.

It is not Arjuna. Though there are parts in which, Arjuna is given the importance, but he is hardly ever treated as a different kind of a hero. He is given the importance he requires in Mahabharata. But the reasons behind why he is so important, why he is the true warrior, and why he was ‘the best there was, and the best there ever would be’ is missing. 

And despite everything, I have to say this, Anuja Chandramouli, take a bow. Because you have managed to rewrite the Mahabharata for the adults who have never read the ACK.

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