Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Book Review: Randamoozham

Book: Randamoozham

Author: M.T. Vasudevan Nair

ISBN: 9788122608311

Pages: 300


The Mahabharata defines the Indian literary sphere. As an introductory statement in the original Sanskrit version states: "The tree of the Bharata (Mahabharata) inexhaustible to mankind as the clouds, shall be a source of livelihood to all distinguished poets." In hindsight, one realises the truth in such a prophetic statement made by Vyasa. While the Mahabharata has had multiple retellings and interpretations in Indian languages, in Malayalam, the Mahabharata finds a perspective in Bhima, the mightiest of the Pandavas. 

Randamoozham begins from the point where Krishna is not such a revered figure but a local king who failed to take revenge on Jarasandha and instead uses Bhima to seek revenge. We have known him as the second Pandava, the mightiest of the five, unequaled in wielding the mace, a fine general in war, a ruthless adversary, a fierce warrior who made every one afraid by his very presence. Here we see Bheema as he is originally-straightforward, slow to comprehend, but brutal in expression of feelings, practical to the core, one who did not have any separate interests or desires, who played the second fiddle to Yudhisthira and Arjuna from the start to the finish, who is unique in his own way.

It takes a reader right from the time of Kunti and the entry of the Pandavas into Hastinapura following King Pandu's death. It breezes through all the major incidents stated in Mahabharata culminating in a stunning climax. The book beautifully captures the pain and tribulations of Bhima and shows Kunti,Draupadi, Drona, Yudhisthira, Krishna, Arjuna, Karna, Duryodhana and all the other major players of this story as mere humans of flesh and blood. 

Every incident stated in Mahabharata as a divine intervention is shown in a new light to the readers. The master wordsmith also describes how the bards make it a point to blow an incident out of proportion. The way in which political and mind games of Mahabharata are played out giving equal importance to all the characters is well worth a mention, as is the way in which he describes the times, architecture and lifestyle of that era.  

Revisionism is not a popular style when it comes to Indian Literature. There have never been many champions who thought ‘what if a certain story of old was not how it actually happened?' and tried to look at the same story from a different perspective. Randamoozham or The Second Turn, therefore, penned by Jnanpith award winner M.T.Vasudevan Nair, one of the living legends of Malayalam literature, has to be held in high esteem. 

This book, which was first published in 1984, won the Vayalar award for the best literary work in Malayalam of the year. Randamoozham stands apart in the way the author has steered away from the mythological setting, and in the masterstroke of casting the characters as mere mortals, a stark contrast from the divine and godly setting portrayed in the epic. The way in which political and mind games of Mahabharata are played out giving equal importance to all the characters is well worth a mention, as is the way in which he describes the times, architecture and lifestyle of that era. The work was hugely successful and well received by the reader despite the controversial and divisive tone of the subject.

No comments: