Category Archives: Books

Book Review: Scion of Ikshvaku

You know what’s the best part about Mythology? Anyone can take the core elements of an epic, add two tablespoons of imagination and three teaspoons of their own interpretation to make a great recipe under the genre called Fiction. The Ramayana my grandmother told me would be slightly different from the one you heard from your grandmother. I’m not sure what was the Ramayana that Amish’s grandmother told him but what Amish has decided to tell his grandchildren is a completely different one, full of his own dose of inventiveness. What’s more, he’s managed to pull off a recipe that will be loved by all and will leave his fans wanting for more.

Scion of Ikshvaku

Scion of Ikshvaku

I had the privilege to meet Amish in person early this month, in a chapter reading event held in Delhi. He didn’t out-rightly call “Scion of Ikshvaku” a work of fiction but acknowledged that at many a place, it would have “his own interpretation” of events from the Great Epic. 10 pages into the book, I knew what he meant.

Most people who spoke of Amish that day touched upon his attention to detail. Right from the font of the book to the colour of the clouds in the book cover to the agenda of the book launch function, he has had a contribution everywhere. People who’ve known him told he’s always been this way. My admiration for the author had only gone up.

The book opens with these lines written by Khalil Ghibran:

“Parents are like a bow, and children like arrows. The more the bow bends and stretches, the farther the arrow flies.cI fly, not because I am special, but because they stretched for me”

“Scion of Ikshvaku” is not actually based on Ramayana. The two works just happen to have a lot of coincidences. 🙂 For example, Ram is born to Dashrath, married to Sita and goes to Vanvaas for 14 years. Core elements like these are same in both the works. Almost nothing apart from that, is. Which is why, “Scion of…” is unputdownable according to me.

There are story-tellers. There are master story-tellers. Then, there is Amish. He is one of the very few authors who manages (effectively) to move a story through dialogue, rather than narrative. I like that about his writing style. And surprisingly, there is a lot of humour intertwined in the dialogue throughout the book, especially the parts leading to the adolescent phase of the four brothers. Humour is used even in the most serious of scenes. If an author has an innate sense of humour, it is bound to reflect in his work too.

Ram wasn’t the perfect man. He was the perfect follower of rules. It is this aspect that keeps coming back, again and again, throughout the book. The way different scenarios pan out to put Ram into a dilemma whether to follow his dharma or choose a practical solution, is explained very beautifully in the book. Ram, of course, stood by his dharma. Now, don’t call this a spoiler. 😛

We see very little of Hanuman in the series opener. Of course, 4 more books to go. Look forward to how Amish portrays my favourite God.

“Scion of Ikshvaku” will go down in literary history as the opening act of an epic interpretation of the Ramayana, much like Cho’s “Valmiki Ramayana”, Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas, Devdutt Patnaik’s “Sita” and thousand other interpretations of the epic across centuries.

Long wait for the sequel has already begun.

P.S: You might want to read my review of “The Oath of the Vayuputras” here.

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Sneak peak into “Scion of Ikshvaku”

Being active on Twitter has its benefits. I had pre-ordered “Scion of Ikshvaku” on Amazon and answered a few contest questions, and bang, landed myself an opportunity to attend a meet-and-greet event with the Author himself. I was elated.

With hopes of getting to know more about the Ram Chandra series, I reached India Habitat Center at Lodhi Road.

Few live tweets from the event follow:

Now, time to keep calm and wait for June 24 (expected date of delivery of the book) to enter the mystic world of Lord Ram!

4 Life Lessons from Sachin’s “Playing It My Way!”

It’s been a year now since Sachin Tendulkar (hereby called Thalaivar in this post) kissed the Cricket pitch goodbye! He has moved on in life, spending time with family, adopting villages, writing an Autobiography, etc. The Nation is yet to move on. He is the nation’s (okay, majority of the nation’s) greatest pride. So when his Autobiography hit the shelves recently, it was only natural that his countrymen and cricket lovers world-wide expected it be as awesome as his batting. A lot has been written about the book already. I will reserve my comments for a later day. Today, I list down 4 Life Lessons that stand out in Thalaivar’s “Playing It My Way”

Do your duty, everything else will fall in place

To put it bluntly, Thalaivar is just another human being like you and me, who went about doing his duty diligently, day in and day out. When he failed, he practiced hard. When he succeeded, he practiced harder. It’s amazing how just by doing his duty (along with some God given talent), he is literally worshipped by millions of people.

If you deserve something, you’ll get it somehow; today or 20 years later

Imagine. Thalaivar had to see the likes of Andrew Symonds and Brad Hogg lift the World Cup before him having got the chance to do so. Throughout the book, Thalaivar describes the painful journey of working so hard to win the coveted World Cup and failing five times, in succession.  It all comes down to the clichéd phrase, “Quitters Never Win, Winners Never Quit”.

Music heals

If there’s anything apart from Cricket that Thalaivar mentions in “Playing It My Way”, it’s music and food. Music is a great healer. It’s a man’s best friend when he is dejected/disappointed. It helps channelize your emotions and concentrate harder. No wonder a lot of sportsmen (including the likes of Thala Rahul Dravid) take to music to improve concentration levels.

Be grateful to your teachers, family and God

Ramakant Achrekar would have been a proud teacher just to see his pupil (Thalaivar) excel in International Cricket, let alone Thalaivar crediting a major chunk of his success to Achrekar Sir. Thalaivar (mentions in his book) never fails to pay a visit to his teacher Achrekar Sir, his aunt (who played a major part in his early years as a budding cricketer) and two local temples, every single time he leaves India for an away series. Such a simple life lesson – be grateful to your teachers, family and God!

Book review: Life is what you make it

Ankita has everything going her way.  She is great at writing and painting. She is the Arts Club Secretary of her college. She gets MBA  admission in one of the top management Institutes in Mumbai. Then, a chain of events lands her as a patient in a Mental Hospital. How Ankita musters the courage and strength and how love and acceptance changes her life for the better, forms the rest of the book.

I have always been a fan of first person narratives. That’s why I liked Chetan Bhagat. I am yet to figure out why many young Indians hate Chetan Bhagat. May be because he thinks and acts like the representative of India’s youth (he is approaching 40). But, I loved most of his works.

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“Life is what you make it” is also a first person narrative, told by Ankita. It is actually apt, since most of the narrative actually deals with what is going on in Ankita’s mind. I liked the way Preeti Shenoy (author of the book) showed the stark contrast in the cultures of conservative Kerala and open Mumbai. The parts describing Ankita’s college days set in Cochin are filled with witticisms that keep the reader engaged.

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This is the second work of art relating to Bipolar disorder that I’ve come across. The first was the Dhanush starrer, “3”, a tamil movie. While “3” had the lead character committing suicide, “Life is what you..” is the story of how Ankita overcomes the disorder and truly understands the meaning of her existence.

Book Review: The Oath of the Vayuputras

No spoilers…

Writing fantasy fiction is easy. Recounting history/mythology is not tough. But writing historical fiction and making the reader glued to the book is no joke. Amish seems to have done that with ease in his final book on the Shiva Trilogy: The Oath of the Vayuputras.

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While reading the book, you get the same feeling you get while watching Mani Ratnam’s Thalapathy. You know it’s fiction but you just cannot stop drawing parallels with the original.

Each of the fifty odd chapters ends on a twist/suspense that it’ll be extremely hard to put down the book and get back to work.

The characters in the book are ones you get to see in your daily life. The “Kadamai, Ganniyam, Kattupaadu” Parvateshwar, wise Gopal, fearless Kartik, sinister Vidyunmali, among others.

“What is Evil? Why should it be destroyed?” are the main questions answered in this book.

The definition of Evil in the “eye” of the reader keeps changing in every book of the Trilogy.

In the first book, Chandravanshis were portrayed as Evil from the “eye” of Suryavanshis.

In the second book, the Nagas were portrayed as Evil from the “eye” of both Suryavanshis and Chandravanshis, at least till some part of the book.

Only in the third book does the reader realize that Evil can be something very simple; something that is a part of your system, that no one notices.

Evil doesn’t exist in itself. It is the human greed that causes Evil to rise. Someday, even the Greatest Good WILL turn into Greatest Evil. It is only a question of “When?” Of course, Neelkanth is the ultimate “Destroyer of Evil”.

A good storyteller is one who makes the reader visualize the sequences as they unfold. The Author has proved himself to be an excellent storyteller. When he describes war, you can see the gore and bloodshed in front of your eyes.  When he describes a city/town say, he is able to paint a picture in your mind.

In trying to prove a point that the characters in HIS story are humans, he gives a scientific explanation for almost everything considered superhuman, which might test the reader’s patience, at times!

Shiva’s conversations with Gopal are good life lessons for all.

A fitting and epic climax for the epic series, “The Oath of…” is easily the best book of the Trilogy, in my opinion. May be because it is the one I read most recently!

The Universe bows to Lord Shiva. I bow to Lord Shiva.

Har Har Mahadev!