Author: Anand Neelakantan
Publisher: Platinum Press
Price on Flipkart: Rs. 190
Ramayana re-told by the vanquished seemed like an interesting premise and I picked it up with a lot of expectations. However, I was disappointed.The book begins well, then drags, then picks up in bits and parts but finally drags so much that you want to just quit reading.
The story unravels through the voices of two persons- Ravana and a commoner Bhadra. The concept of having a third-point view of the story, told through a common man, seems novel and keeps you engaged. Some of the parts where he (Bhadra) brings out the voice of an ordinary citizen in the backdrop of an unjust life, braving against the odds and his grouses with the government of the country seems very relevant and realistic. Yet, Bhadra sometimes assumes a profile than is even larger than the main protagonist and you just want him to mind his own business after a while.
Ravana, according to the original mythology, although portrayed as a demon-God, was known to have shades of goodness in him. He was an intelligent ruler and a Shiva-devotee with a great love for arts. However, in Asura, these very qualities are just mentioned in some parts and that too sketchily. Ravana comes across as a very confused person, always with conflicting thoughts, even though he has a fierce and strong ambition to succeed. His goodness rarely comes across except in his thoughts. His decisions, action and their results seem quite accidental. You don't really feel any sympathy towards this Asura who is telling his side of the story. The plot seems far-fetched in many areas and the parts where the final battle is depicted is quite outrageous. I can understand that since it is Ravana's story, Rama has to come out as an evil person. Yet, it is difficult to stomach the twisted details towards the end.
I couldn't help comparing this book with The Shiva Trilogy, also a mythological fiction. Although, the third book was a let down, the book overall had a well-rounded effect with the plot flowing out naturally.
The twists and plot of Asura seemed contrived and laborious in comparison. The book also was found wanting in the editing part with quite a few grammatical errors.
There are quite a number of good reviews for this book and I seem to be on the minority side. So, probably this is just me and you may like it.
Have you read this one? What are your thoughts?