Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: Arjuna by Anuja Chandramouli

Review: Arjuna by Anuja Chandramouli

Arjuna - Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince
Author: Anuja Chandramouli
ISBN: 978-9381576397

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Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince, by Anuja Chandramouli, recreates the magic of the timeless Indian epic, Mahabharata, in an easy-to-read, engrossing narrative. It promises to reveal previously unknown dimensions and shades of this Pandava hero. So how far does it succeed in delivering that promise?

Blurb from Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince:

Arjuna is the immortal tale of one of India s greatest heroes. These pages retell in riveting detail the story of the Pandava Warrior-Prince who has captured the imagination of millions across centuries. This is the intense and human story of his loves, friendship, ambitions, weaknesses and follies, as well as his untimely death and revival, his stint as a eunuch, and the innermost reaches of his thoughts. Told in a refreshingly modern and humourous style and set against the staggering backdrop of the Mahabharata. Arjuna's story appeals equally to the average, discerning reader and the scholar. It spans the epic journey from before his birth, when omens foretold his greatness, across the fabled, wondrous landscape that was his life.

Before I start my review, let me clarify that I haven't read any other version of this great Indian epic. My only exposure to Mahabharata is the old T.V. serial aired on Doordarshan - B.R. Chopra's Mahabharata - and some excerpts in old Amar Chitra Kathas (or some other such children books).

Based on that limited background, I will have to say that Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince failed to deliver its promise. It didn't reveal anything new about Arjuna. There were a few incidents that weren't as crisp and clear in the memory as others.... e.g., when Arjuna meets Hanuman... but they've all been covered in the T.V. serial. The "final journey" of the Pandavas was probably the only part of the book that was completely new to me.

The writing style was definitely not "humourous", as stated in the blurb, although it was "modern"! Simple flow, average vocabulary (the kind we use in normal day-to-day interactions), and a brisk pace. The book covers most of Mahabharata (and not just Arjuna's tale) in only 360 pages! It seemed like reading an abridged high-school version of the epic tale, with a little more focus on Arjuna's life!

But without any new stuff about this central character, the book was practically just a re-write of Mahabharata... that too an incomplete one! There was nothing original in the plot or the characters. On the contrary, the small size of the book made it impossible to do proper justice to any of the characters! As such, I really cannot give any points to Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince, for those two parameters.

The print quality was good and the editing was clean. The cover didn't impress me. I liked the four-page "Cast of Characters" listed at the very beginning of the book. The narrative hopped randomly, across points along the historic timeline of the events... I found that a bit annoying. I would have preferred a more linear approach. Despite all that, the book was difficult to put down once I started on it! And that's saying something, considering there was nothing new in the story!

My rating: 2 out of 5. Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince, by Anuja Chandramouli, lacks originality and depth, yet makes for a gripping and quick read. There are hardly any new insights about Arjuna, but you do get to experience the Mahabharata again, at the pace of a fast-moving action thriller, in simple, contemporary English.

Buy Kamadeva : The God of Desire, also by Anuja Chandramouli, from: Flipkart | Amazon.in | Amazon.com

Disclaimer: The author sent me a free, personally-autographed copy of this book for reviewing, but that has, in no way, affected my rating and opinions.


Here's more in Books.


This is my 16th post for 2013 April Spring Cleaning Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Writers' Block... Yet Again!"

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