Saturday, 10 June 2017

Why I couldn't read Anand Neelakantan's Asura beyond 50 pages

To be honest, I wanted to read Asura even before Anand Neelakantan shot to mass fame with Bahubali. Having tried to read the book before and failing to go beyond 50 pages, it took major perseverance to pick the book again and finish it.

Why I couldn't read it in the first try?
I think I had over-estimated the book, looking at the reviews and the kind of hype the book got. Another thing was, given the controversial context of the book, I was hoping for something extremely dramatic.

Why I still wanted to read the book? 
One, because I enjoy different perspectives on mythology, especially the ones that give the revered gods a human touch while myths get a scientific and logical reasoning.
Two, because I never understood why Rama is considered God when both, Ram and Ravan achieved an equal amount of success for their people.
Three, because I have OCD for completing a book I have started. I couldn't get myself to pick up another book till I had finished this one.

Asura: Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan

After the first 80-90 pages, the book started picking up pace. Right from when the pawn-like Bhadra is introduced in the story, it gets interesting. The whole premise along with the story is excellent. Also, having a first-person narrative was interesting, as it allows to build trust. The thought that if Ravana himself got the chance to say his story, how would he justify his actions. To make it even more dramatic, this story is a flashback that Ravana is having while counting his last breaths on the battlefield. 

It's controversial as well as sympathetic to see how a strong competitive villain, feared by the world, lost to someone who had never been to war before. This being explained by logic and not just Rama's godly powers.

The first-person narrative was combined with a 3rd person narrative that was seemingly unbiased - Bhadra. The massive part played by a servant for Ravana entwined with numerous coincidences reiterates that after all, it is fiction.

So, the story is compelling and there is a new twist to every piece of the traditional saga that we have been listening since childhood. Basically, it is Ravanayana - an antithesis to Ramayana. Anand Neelakantan a natural story-teller, Bahubali and his other books are a proof. What worked for me is that I am still in the introduction phase of Hindu mythology and also know the difference between mythology and religion, though it's the thinnest line in the world. I was able to enjoy the book as a story.

The writing could have been better, maybe more interesting. The writing did not do justice to such a nice plot. At some points, it became monotonous. There were places where the disconnect could be sensed maybe some chunks were edited, leaving behind a blurry transition. But for a debut book, it was exceptional.

Recommended for every mythology enthusiast, who I guess have read it already. If not, what are you waiting for? Patience to read 500 pages, maybe.

I am no writer, and nor am I a literature buff. I just like to read well-written stories. No offense to anyone.

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