This blog used to be views on various things. But in all these years, I find it going a whole new direction.
Something which I have loved all the time. It's BOOKS!! So, presenting a whole new saga, of books and a little about them, whatever I can find, write, visualise and imagine...
is back with a bang. Kavita Kane set some standards, the first time I read ‘Karna’sWife’, and now with the sister of a most loved heroine, she raises the bar,
started this book, since the name of the novel caught my attention at first go.
‘Sita’s Sister’ is a remarkable book, it attempts to set the tone for future
you can read up the Review here and Buy the Book here, as well. Read on further
for her own words…
How did ‘Sita’s Sister’ happen? What’s the research that has gone into
Interestingly, when I first
decided to write a novel, it was with the story idea of Sita's Sister, that is,
about Urmila. But I gave it up after not getting
too much information about her to expand into a whole novel.
I wrote ‘Karna's
Wife’ instead. After the surprise success of this debut novel, I was brave
enough to attempt another. The idea of Urmila persisted and I sat down to how I
would develop it. I finally did and it came
out exactly the way I wanted!
Why did you choose Urmila? What is the difference in the opinion of Urmila
before and after the book?
While reading the Ramayana when I was at school there were three characters whom I loved
- Urmila, Lakshman and Sumitra and out of the three Urmila fascinated me the
most. If I were to ever write a novel, it would be on her!
Fortunately or unfortunately, there was just a
scant mention of her in the epic, so I had the freedom to flesh her out on
those flimsy, skeletal facts. She was to have slept through those 14 years when
her husband was away on exile with Ram. It was metaphorical, of course.
Instead, I looked at her beyond being Sita's
younger sister or Lakshman's wife or Janak's true daughter. A scholar, an
artist and a woman, who held the fort at Ayodhya when the three went on their
exile. There is much fiction but placed within the
framework of the facts. I did not want to break her
image - however blurred it was - yet to make her a striking woman, she who,
triumphed tears and tragedy with dignity and strength.
How would you relate the life of Urmila’s life to the lives today? Any similarities?
Emotions and relationships are not
time-limited, they are universal. And in both my books I have dealt with issues
like love and disappointment, one of the main reasons for marital friction.
In ‘Sita's Sister’, it is also about long
distance relationship - such a common phenomenon, today.Then there
is the saas-bahu equation, sibling relationship and the tussle between jealousy
and insecurity, power and arrogance, duty and love... some issues remain the
same down the ages. I explored them through my
characters, chiefly the four sisters and the three queens.
'Ramayana' from Wikipedia
Both your books came out along with a number of
mythological novels. What according to you, was different about them?
Mythology is a huge canvas and each author handles it in his own
inimitable way. Therein lies the
charm of both the author and mythology!
How would you
relate the lives of Urmila and Lakshman to the lives today? Any similarities?
As I said earlier, the basic relationship issues
remain the same, values change. Urmila and Lakshman
suffer physical separation and I think both handled it beautifully. Falling in
love is easy, loving is difficult.
Also, both are ranked second in the
sibling hierarchy which, definitely affects how their personalities are.
How would you
relate the book and its characters, besides the two mentioned earlier, to lives
‘Sita's Sister’ is more about the women in the Ramayana
than about Ram, Sita and Lakshman in exile. These
people left behind within the lonely palace of Ayodhya fought a different
Another element was the difference in
power and status equation amongst siblings is what makes or breaks the sibling
relationship. It is not just
love, it has to be followed by trust and respect. And this goes for any relationship
be it a couple, siblings or parent-child. That comes through every other
character besides the protagonists.
Which is your
favourite character besides Urmila? Why?
Kaikeyi. If not Urmila, I would have liked to
write on her. But, a lot has been said about this remarkable woman. She is
probably the most interesting, versatile villain, very finely nuanced in her
shades of grey.
She is the spirited princess, the favourite queen,
the spunky warrior, the generous mother who suddenly turns evil. Why? She holds the key to the family's happiness and tragedy.
What are the most fulfilling parts, now that you
have managed to release two novels?
writing what makes the effort, so fulfilling is receiving the readers'
feedback. I prize and cherish them. And I strive to
learn from their reactions and responses. It does make you think, analyse and
need be, correct and rectify.
How do you differentiate
them from the usual understanding of some of these characters that we get to
than the black and white, I like the greys in the characters. Besides a strong narrative, fleshing out the characters
is the most exciting part. Especially,
when they are profuse, they should not overlap and confuse the reader.
More than Urmila, I found Lakshman to be more difficult to define. His
identity has been completely sublimated. He has always been seen as the ideal
brother or the devoted younger brother in law. Within this definition, I had to work on him,
adding colour and shades to his uni-dimensional personality.
was with Karna in ‘Karna's Wife’. He is such a larger-than-life figure in
popular imagination, that adding the the right dose of greys and pathos to him
was creatively challenging.
Also, Kunti or Kaikeyi and Kausalya. They are huge personalities and need
to be handled with care. I went a step ahead and coloured them with strong
strokes of grey. But for a few, most
liked these strong women.
What book is
coming from you next?
Best it does the talking when it's out!
Did you think
that they would become as successful as they have become today?
I am overwhelmed at the tremendous response each has
evoked. And am really glad my readers enjoyed them. Surprises are often sweet!
‘Sita’s Sister’ is a
rather thought provoking read. Even if we have read the earlier versions of the
Ramayana, which basically put Urmila to sleep, one must read this particular
piece. It would help truly understand how and what the women’s lives were like
at the time of the Ramayana.
It starts off with a
prologue, and the tiny Sita holding up Lord Shiv’s bow. Just with those words,
Kane establishes the silent strength of the book. Moving on, let us go on to
understand who the book is all about. Sita’s Sister.
There are a few
versions of what happens to Sita’s sister, Urmila in the main version of the story.
Urmila goes to sleep for 14 years in one version, or she goes into penance in
another one, but if you have read Kane’s stories before, you would understand
why her version is suitably feminist.
Urmila is King Janak and Sunaina's
daughter, though till now, we’ve heard the versions of how Sita was taken from
the earth and adopted and he had his child later. So, Urmila is the spirited
sister of Sita, though you cannot miss the parts where one notices, how
protective she is of Sita.
It becomes obvious,
when Sita falls in love with Rama, and then you cannot miss the Urmila-Lakshman’s
version either. The story goes on to show how the two cousins of Urmila,
Mandavi and Shrutakirti also follow in her stead, marrying Bharat and Shatrughna.
You cannot miss the version of Urmila’s mother either.
On to, Ayodhya. Here,
we come to meet the other characters, starting with
King Dasharath, moving on
to his three wives, and then the vamp of the book, Manthara. There is a lot
more of Urmila’s character, which comes forward. She is the opposite of Sita,
while Sita is described as a beautiful being, so is Urmila with intelligence,
quick wit and a deeper understanding of people’s characters.
Even during the time
when Lakshman’s character chooses going with Ram and Sita to the forest, she
stays strong and helps Shatrugna to handle all the stately affairs, especially
when Bharat also decides to become a hermit till Ram returns.
Her intelligence comes
into view again, when she is invited by her father to take part in a conference
where she would meet other scholars and finally put her learnings into full
The book also shows
most of the others, such as Kaikeyi angsts, Sumitra’s kindness, Manthara’s vices
and Mandavi in her awkward shades, which people have not realised, in all the
years of reading the Ramayana.
Lakshman has a whole
new role to play in this book, as we try and understand his shades too. The
book has been very wisely written. Though changed, at no time does the reader
feel like the book has not done the story, justice.
The book does have its feminist
moments and gives an ungodly touch to its main character, Ram who is the ultimate
cause of Sita’s death. You cannot miss
the temper of Urmila either. A very well-written book and one, which should
definitely be read.
‘Lead Tin Yellow’ is not a painter’s dream, but it definitely is, this painter of 'words' dream.
Because it seems to be so, considering it is not a writer’s but this pseudonym’s.
More about that later.
well, now to come out with the review. It starts off with the protagonist,
Robin Miller. Robin is a journalist working in Massachusetts, and is just about
getting ready to go to work, when his reserved father comes to visit. In between
a few words, Rob goes in to work, with a fleeting glimpse, of what his father
might have said.
father, a Vietnam veteran, keeps talking of some wartime ‘documents’ that he keeps
hinting at showing. Robin finally leaves for work but he keeps wondering at
what his father had almost said. He returns in the evening, to find his father
missing. Concluding that he had gone for a walk, he sits waiting for him. The wait
which turns into a non-stop one, ends up bringing the police home.
police headed by Captain Cooley, brought some bad news. Found shot dead, was
his father. Beside him is a suitcase full of Robin’s old newspapers. The police
want to know why. And what was he doing with this suitcase? Coming to grips
with the whole situation, Robin, along with his girlfriend, Linda must make the
best of it.
Robin tries to figure it out, he must move closer to his mother and his
half-brother. Clue by clue, he figures out more of his father’s double life. He
discovers his uncommunicative father and his former love too. He also finds out
more about 16th century painters and the process of mixing lead and
yellow to not just give this book, its title but also of it, leading to the
As he tries his best to solve this puzzle, he has to stay ahead of the
villains and the police, too. Robin and Linda uncover what the ‘documents’ are and their value, and are not shocked
anymore at why they must be kept secret.The adventurous espionage story could be yours
if you are looking for a mystery, this afternoon.
The book kept me up and its pace was fairly quick, it also had its
various artistic parts, which definitely had my ears up. Does he manage to solve
the mystery and become closer to his family? And what of his girlfriend and the
The language was very good, though I found a few editorial mistakes,
which kind of took me off the story. Overall, a good read.
Okay, now to an interesting point. The book has been written by an acclaimed sociologist,
who has for almost thirty years, taught in universities, worldwide. He has authored and edited several books, though this is his first work of fiction. He is
currently serving on the Board of his country’s Central Bank. Doug Gunnery is a
pseudonym, too. I think, with those surprises, we should not be surprised that
he has a love for mystery thrillers and am sure that this book is not the end. He lives in India, though this book was set in the midwest of the US.