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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Book Review : 'The Burning Queen : Rani Padmavati' by Anuja Chandramouli



The story is about The Burning Queen : Rani Padmavati, Alauddin Khalji, and King Rawal Ratan Singh, and the cruel and bizarre way, their lives meet.  Alauddin Khalji’s desire for authority and inevitably the throne, leads him to murder his father-in-law, by tricking him. So, foul is the plan, that Jalaluddin Khalji meets his death, by a sword lashing at his neck, all of a sudden. 

He had originally come, after getting news of his daughter, being with child. He was told that his daughter, who happens to be Alauddin’s wife, was pregnant. Despite the warnings from his followers, he still makes his way there.

18th Century Painting of Rani Padmini from Wikipedia
In the whole course, a young princess at a Sinhalese kingdom finds herself in the crux of the situation. Fortunately, she is made to marry Rajput King Rawal Ratan Singh, whom she falls in love with. This happy turn of events, occurred due Jalaluddin’s plans for the expansion of his Kingdom.

Originally, it was his father-in-law who had brought Mongols to his kingdom and gave them a chance to convert to Islam. The idea was clear in his head, the Mongols, followed by Rajputs and finally, down to the Southern, most Deccan.

Meanwhile, Padmavati's marriage to an already married King Ratan Singh takes place. So much in love with Padmavati, he was that the face of Chittor was changed to welcome his new wife. He was married to Nagmati and his new wife was bound to bring some jealousies and anger to his Chittor palace. The kingdom had its share of harems and of course, the palace with all its beauty and its secrets behind the walls.

Following this was Ratan Singh and his involvement with the Raghav Chetana and Menaka incident. All he wanted to do was rescue Menaka from what occured and have Chetana pay for the breaking of her wedding due to Chetana’s illicit act. But he would not do so, and instead he manages to capture Chetana and quickly orders his execution. But, unfortunately, Chetana manages to escape, having the help of a so-called goddess!

Chetana finds himself in Delhi, and meets with Khalji telling him of the stunning beauty that Padamvati is. He, of course is not too interested straight away in Padmavati. But he does act on Chittor and the war, he puts it through.

Within a few months, Chittor falls and Padmavati commits jauhar (self-immolation) on hearing that Khalji is making his way over to take her. The wicked gossip was spread by Nagamati that Khalji is doing this for seize her.

Anuja Chandramouli
What would follow this? Treachery, prejudice and killings? Would all this prevent Chittor from being taken over? Would jealousy be the ultimate cause of everything? Would Nagmati’s dream of killing Padmavati serve its purpose? Would Ratan Singh be captured?

One tiny mistake: in Page 157, 'Our troops were waiting to harry them' :) Anuja Chandramouli has given us a well-written ‘novel’. It’s no history but of course, there are a few snippets. It is her imagination that gives this bird its wings.

You can Read this Book, right here.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Author Interview : Anuja Chandramouli, author of ‘Kartikeya : The Destroyer's Son' (Part 2)

Read up, the second part of the Interview with Anuja Chandramouli, author of 'Kartikeya : The Destoryer's Son'. Here, she explains how she explains, how she feels plugging the holes in the Sons of Shiva's phase, which her favourite character is besides Kartikeya, the most challenging and fulfilling parts are in writing the book, and two other books that were released around Kartikeya, Folks...
  
How does it feel, now that you are plugging the holes in the 'Sons of Shiva’s phase’?

I tend to get impatient with the tendency of many folks to treat half remembered tales that have been haphazardly handed down as the gospel truth and fight each other over it. It is the height of ridiculousness.

I am glad you mentioned the holes in the existing narratives, because it is important to look past the obvious and accepted versions to arrive at deeper truths and the beautiful essence of Indian Mythology, before it was sterilized and politicized.

This is what I have tried to do in my books on ‘Arjuna’, ‘Kamadeva’, ‘Shakti’, ‘Yama’ and now ‘Kartikeya’. I have reinterpreted the existing texts and used my imagination to arrive at a version that makes sense to me.

And I expect my readers to join me on the journey and form their own conclusions that may or may not be at odds with mine.

How would you relate the life of Kartikeya to the lives today? Any similarities?

Writing my books is an intensely personal experience and I am always surprised at how relevant it all is to the many issues and problems, we all face on a daily basis.

Kartikeya may have been Shiva's Son and powerful in his own right but like all of us, he had to deal with the demons within, before dealing with those without.

And he too experienced love and loss, and the entire gamut of see-sawing emotions before he learned to be at peace.

To my gratification, readers usually tell me that they love how contemporary and timeless, the themes explored in my books are which makes it easy for them to identify with the characters.

Which is your favourite character besides Kartikeya? Why?

Tough one! I love all my characters! But if I had to choose, it would be Devasena, Kartikeya's consort.  She is no helpless Hannah or the good, dutiful wife who does exactly what is expected of her.

Instead she fights by Kartikeya's side and makes her own way in the world. I also liked Nesha, for obvious reasons and it gives me a huge kick to know that this version of classical lore is unique.

Shiva and Parvati, who are the perfectly imperfect couple, are adorable. I also like the Asura brothers - Soora, Simha and Taraka. Even Indra, who I am really mean to in my books is like an old friend! Did I mention Chitra, the fun sidekick?

What were the most challenging and fulfilling parts about writing this
book?

The challenge was to take familiar themes and come up with something different. I am satisfied with how the book shaped up and it has been a wonderfully fulfilling experience which will always have a special place in my heart.

What about the two books, which were released along with Kartikeya?

Prithviraj Chauhan : The Emperor of Hearts and Padmavati : The Burning Queen mark my first foray into historical fiction. I am really excited about both.

Like Mythology, history is another subject where people who can't be bothered with research attack others over largely fictitious accounts of what went down centuries ago.

With Prithvi and Padma, I have attempted to recapture a slice of the past to help people look at the bigger picture and put things in perspective.

Now that you have written three books already in such a short period
of time, what else can we expect from you in the next year?

Come on, you don't expect me to answer that question and ruin the suspense do you? ;)


You can Read the Review, the First part to this Interview and also, Buy the Book right here, too.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Author Interview : Anuja Chandramouli, author of ‘Kartikeya : The Destroyer's Son' (Part 1)

Read up, the first part of the Interview with Anuja Chandramouli, author of 'Kartikeya : The Destoryer's Son'. I have known Anuja for a really long time, right from her first book, 'Arjuna' until today, when she has sent me three books to read in a row. I still remember, what I had written in the earliest days, was that I was not too impressed with her earliest book, 'Arjuna', until I reached 'Shakti', when I has written that 'In brilliant prose, Chandramouli explains to us why and how the book was conceptualised and finally written'
Yet, this super author, continuously sent me her books, till she had managed to impress me. I still remember my earliest days when I had just about started writing on this blog, mysef too :).
In this part of the Interview, she tells us how the journey of the book first happened, how it feels now that she is finally plugging the holes in Shiva's sons' phase, and much more, Folks...
 
Could you describe the journey of ‘Kartikeya : The Destroyer’s Son’?


It has been an incredible journey. Working on ‘Shakti’, a few years back, I nearly had a nervous breakdown, which is why I took a break from Mythology and worked on ‘Yama's Lieutenant’ and its sequel both of which were fantasies.

Kartikeya was a great way to return to something I love. He has always been a great favourite with us, Tamizhs and the idea was to make his remarkable story more accessible to a pan - Indian audience.

I wanted Kartikeya's story to be a beautiful experience which the reader could actually live, identify with and take away fresh insights from while being thoroughly entertaining. Because that was what the writing process was like for me.

How did it begin? What kind of research was put into it?

As a child, I grew up listening to stories and music dedicated to Kartikeya and guess I just wanted to explore further and draw closer to this charismatic character. A couple of years back I did a solo Bharatanatyam piece called Kartikeya or Murugan Kavuthuvam, and it was very special.

Ever since, I have been toying with the idea of writing a book on Kartikeya and when my editor suggested it to me, I jumped at the chance.

As always, I spent a lot of time on research to make sure I had a solid foundation on which to build his story. My preferred sources were from the Puranas and the beautiful songs composed by saints and devotees of Kartikeya.

How does it feel, now that you are plugging the holes in the ‘Sons of Shiva’s phase’?

I tend to get impatient with the tendency of many folks to treat half remembered tales that have been haphazardly handed down as the gospel truth and fight each other over it. It is the height of ridiculousness.

I am glad you mentioned the holes in the existing narratives, because it is important to look past the obvious and accepted versions to arrive at deeper truths and the beautiful essence of Indian Mythology, before it was sterilized and politicized.

This is what I have tried to do in my books on ‘Arjuna’, ‘Kamadeva’, ‘Shakti’, ‘Yama’ and now ‘Kartikeya’. I have reinterpreted the existing texts and used my imagination to arrive at a version that makes sense to me.

And I expect my readers to join me on the journey and form their own conclusions that may or may not be at odds with mine.


You can Read the Review here and Buy the Book right here, as well.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Book Review : 'Kartikeya : The Destroyer's Son' by Anuja Chandramouli



Anuja Chandramouli’s ‘Kartikeya : The Destroyer’s Son’, is not a exactly a book of the lords, instead it runs on a slightly different path. (I think I can talk of at least three friends, who are all named Karthik, or Kartik or whatever else pleases you, who incidentally are all my so-called brothers. Also, a reason for me to read up this book, soon as I received it.)

The book happened to land in my lap on 23rd November 2017, which according to the author was in the stars, since I received it on exactly, Karthigai Deepam.

So, I got to reading up the book. Of course, I do remember it from the days of reading Amar Chitra Katha, but there is the biggest change and that is in Chandramouli’s writing. While, she stays true to the ‘facts’, of how exactly he was born, the main person, who causes the seed to spill, from Shiva to Parvati and the whole deal with Indra, Agni, then Ganga and the nymphs, she adds her own twist to the entire plot.

There is also the entire part of how Kartikeya marries Valli and Devasena, who is the daughter of the much cursed Indra. And Indra is cursed by Parvati, so much that you have to read this book, to realise why. You would understand how and why Devasena gets the better of the whole deal, too. How and why Parvati is against her son, marrying Devasena too? Will they recover from the whole thing?

Of course, the story shifts to Maya, the sorceress and Kashyapa. Through them, the whys and hows of the killing of the ‘demons’ Soora, Simha, and Taraka. They run the entire version of how he manages to be rid of their evil. Oh, and let’s not forget Nesha… who is she and what does she bring into the world?

Was Kartikeya ever a truly violent warrior or was he a compassionate man? Does he also keep ravishing women or manage to protect them? How does he face his sibling, Ganesha? How will he manage to handle most of it and also handle the entire South too?

You can Read the Book, right here.