I, Rama – A Review
When i first applied for reviewing I, Rama – Age of Seers, i was extremely excited. Religious literature narrated from the perspective of history has always interested me. The blurring lines between fact and mythology transform the mundane tales into an account of the past, making the subject even more alluring. This book by Ravi Venu stops short of being classified as an interesting read, despite having the potential to become one.
Ramayana is a revered book of Hindus. Hundreds of thousands of faithful people across the globe swear by the name of Ram. Originally composed by dacoit-turned saint Valmiki, this epic is treated as a way of life for many. Maryada Puroshottam Ram, as the venerated legend is known as, is the protagonist of the story. Chronicled towards the end of his life, the book takes us through his life of struggle and war for the establishment of reign of righteousness. However, being a third person narrative, it often bordered on being presumptive. Venu picks up the reins right at this point and tries to give us an insight into what really could have been the real tale.
This book is the first in a series of three, and begins at the time of Ram’s last days as king. The plot shuttles between the past and present and Ram narrates his tale to his brother Laxman, disciple Hanuman and twin sons, Luv and Kush. To give the touch of authenticity, the writer uses a style which befits that bygone era. Sometimes coming across as monotonous and bit too heavy, language of the novel is its biggest drawback.
One cannot help but compare this novel with Shiva trilogy. Mythology retold in amalgamation of fiction, the series by Amish Tripathi treats the narrative as a thriller. The excitement one felt while reading Meluha, is severely missed in this novel by Ravi Venu. I, Rama became more of a religious text, rather than a work of fiction.
Having said that, due credit must be given to the writer for coming out with this interesting idea of narrating the Ramayana from Ram’s perspective. The book has a clichéd rendition of the epic, which has been retold number of times already; but it has several surprise elements that differ from the original text. Kaikeyi for example has been portrayed as a lady of great might and knowledge. Small anecdotes here and there make the book a little engaging. Nonetheless, I failed to connect to the story. The pace was stagnant and severely lacked the punch and fluidity that a novel of this stature demands.
In conclusion, I can only suggest you to read the book to judge it as per your yardstick. And it would be my request to the author to present a narrative from the perspective of Sita, the most underrated character of the epic.