History is always written by the heroes, the winners; no one thinks about what happened to the vanquished. What could be his tale, what motivated him? For centuries we have silenced the voice of the one quelled in the mighty war. This is precisely why the premise of the story is so interesting and intriguing. It’s the story of the anti-hero Ravana. We have heard innumerable stories about how Ravana is everything that the hero Rama is not. Rama is an antithesis of Ravana – a pure, pious man always on the path of righteousness.
The story unfolds slowly from Ravan’s point of view and also Bhadra’s, a fictitious character, who shadows Ravana until the end. Ravana is a half blood, that is, his father is a Deva while his mother is from the Rakshasa clan. Though he and his other siblings are scorned, by their own father, and is rendered defenseless and destitute yet the fire of ambition burns supremely in him. With different twists and turns in fate and a little help from Bhadra he becomes the king of then island of Lanka. Later on in the tale, in one of his moments of weakness, he fathers a girl child who was soon abandoned. She finds home with her adopted parents, the king of Mithila making it abundantly clear that Sita was not abducted to be devoured but to be protected from her protector, Rama. This eventually leads to the great battle in which Ravana faces defeat, death and destruction.
The story is woven in such a manner that it rouses the readers’ interest only to be doused with the language used in the book. Instead of the book becoming unputdownable, because the storyline is nothing like the ones we have read, it becomes a labored reading. The writing is ghastly and the allusions used are immature and out of context. Yet one cannot discredit the book completelty because it does a wonderful job of bringing to the fore the inherent evils of our belief system, which we cannot ignore. On one hand it is a class struggle despite being a righteous war and on the other hand the book renders all the characters as brutal and without an iota of mercy and humanism in them.
In the end this book leaves me with a relief that I could finish it and not have to turn another page again ever. This is an ideal example of a book with a captivating idea murdered by pathetic writing.