Author : Radha Vishwanath
Publisher : Rupa Books
Genre : Mythology
Source : Publisher
Rating : 2 Stars
Summary : Ravana, perhaps the most popular Rakshasa in Indian mythology, is known as the villain in the Ramayana and the epic would not have been what it is without this great Rakshasa.
Yet Ravana is much more than a mere abductor. Born out of the union of a Rishi and Rakshasi, a devout Shiv-bhakt and a mighty king, Ravana is no ordinary Rakshasa.
This book attempts to bring out a comprehensive and well-rounded character of Ravana. The various little dots of information about the Rakshasa king as given in Valmiki Ramayana have been picked with care, collated and compared with presentations in several other versions of the Ramayana, and the long, hoary lineage of the demon king painstakingly put together to present this villain of villains as a legend worthy of greater attention.
Everyone and their uncle are writing mythology these days. I suppose it is spurred on by the success that certain authors have faced when this genre first started gaining traction but now it is just tiring and try as we might to be picky about these books there are so few that are good and so many that are meh. Unfortunately for me this was in the latter category.
The author starts off quite well I must say, Surpanaka is one of my favourite and misunderstood characters (I have been told) so I did want to see her featured more prominently and maybe more strongly and that was not fulfilled, I suppose I can overlook that considering the title, to an extent but apart from those small portions I really didn’t enjoy much about this book. The book being called Ravanleela I expected him to be shown more favourably, maybe a side of him we don’t see or know but it isn’t the case. He is written in a simplistic fashion and there really isn’t much I enjoyed apart from his younger years which were very well written.
WHAT I LIKED
The first half of the book was good. Almost like how reviewers say the first half of a movie was good. Especially when compared to the second half.
The fact that his wife shows him the ways he has erred. He thinks himself an intelligent man but has overlooked so much good that he can do. The author has tackled a problem that people face today, women tethered to men in power who claim they can do nothing to better women’s positions in life when in fact they can. I liked that this was addressed.
WHAT I DISLIKED
Hmmm, I wasn’t engrossed or entertained. I guess it was the writing style that did it for me so I can’t really point out anything in particular apart from the way the story was written. The pace felt off, the second half felt rushed and the characters were the same characters you read about all the time. There wasn’t anything new or unique.
Read if you aren’t familiar with the Ramayana or if you haven’t read any side of Ravan yet and want to. Else skip.