Monday, 14 October 2013

Kim's Review : Sita's Ramayana

After reading the Missing Queen, I knew I had to go back and read Samhita Arni's first book - Sita's Ramayana, which had been lying unread on my book shelf for almost 2 years. (with my love of books, my book buying speed overtakes my book reading speed by about 40%)

If you expect another piece of brilliant speculative fiction like her 2nd book, then Sita's Ramayana is not for you. It is much more traditional in the sense that it retells the events as is accepted by most famous retellings, but it tells the story from Sita's perspective and hence the label of Speculative Fiction.

Sita's feelings and thoughts imbue this book and that is what made it feel so familiar to me. The same thoughts and questions that plague me when I read the "Ramcharitmanas" or other more popular versions are vocalised by Sita in this book by Samhita Arni & Moyna Chitrakar.

The futility of war and the loss of life worry Sita, The predicament faced by Tara (wife of Sugriva, remarried to his brother Vali and then handed back to Sugriva by Rama) upsets Sita, as it would any other woman who values her independence. This is the beauty of Sita's Ramayana. Samhita Arni has given Sita a voice and a voice that echoes with womanly sentiment, emotions, fears and reasoning.

Moyna Chitrakar is a Patua Artist from Bengal who has adapted the Patua scroll paintings style to a graphic novel with wonderful illustrations like these.

Moyna's paintings came first and Samhita Arni then added the text to the story by building on Chandrabati's Ramayana (a 16th century female re-teller of the epic from Bengal) which tells the tale of a brooding and sorrowful Sita who is abducted, rescued, doubted, tested, temporarily accepted, re-doubted and banished by her husband.

Its a beautiful book, that anybody interested in different versions of the epic would appreciate. But most women would resonate strongly with the Sita in this version which begins with the appearance of Surpanakha in the forest and ends with Sita returning to her earth mother.

Rating : 4/ 5

Also Read : Kim's Review of The Missing Queen

Note: The 2nd picture is an image that appeared in the DNA's Review of Sita's Ramayana

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